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The Bethel Church with Bishop and Pastor McKissick empower education

Black Church has Long History of Offering Educational Opportunities

After finishing a couple of years of pre-med, Shmara Francesca paused her education. Marriage, two children, and two brain surgeries later, she found herself “aged-out” of most grant and scholarship opportunities. That’s where The Bethel Church, Bishop and Pastor McKissick, and their inherited responsibility stepped in.

Still to this day, the U.S. struggles to reach equity in opportunities for education. After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, former slave holders in a Jacksonville, Florida church tried to kick out the freed slaves. However, a surprising outcome led to The Bethel Church’s continuing legacy of education.  

In Dreams Can Always Happen, we follow the history of the oldest existing Baptist church in Florida, The Bethel Church, founded in 1838. Offering educational opportunities to their members and surrounding communities, the church and its leaders answer the call to their inherited responsibility. 

The Bethel Church's Scholarthon Turns Dreams Into Reality

This is the story of how one church’s generations of dedication led to one woman’s pursuit of a deferred dream. Without the financial support of The Bethel Church’s annual scholarship fundraiser — The Scholarthon — Shmara Francesca Mitchell would not have become the first American in her family to have graduated from college. Dreams Can Always Happen is a story of history, perseverance, and hope. We hope it encourages and inspires you to keep pursuing your dreams and making others’ dreams come true!  

The scholarship helped me. It didn't only help me for school. It helped me live so I can go to school.

- Shmara Mitchell 


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