Bartley Temple youth honor fathers

Andrew Ford, a member of the church, wins a door prize during the breakfast at Bartley Temple United Methodist Church.

ELIZABETH HAMILTON/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.

Bartley Temple United Methodist Church served a hearty breakfast to men in honor of Father's Day, while also giving them an opportunity to fellowship and talk with one another about the importance of fatherhood.



Pastor: The Rev. Mary Mitchell.
Location: 1936 NE 8th Ave.
Services: Sunday school is 9:30 a.m., followed by morning worship at 11 a.m. Prayer service is noon Wednesday and Bible study is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Phone: 352-376-6899.

Close to 20 men attended the Pre-Father's Day Community Breakfast Saturday at the church at 1936 NE 8th Ave. After brief remarks from Dorothy Miles, the church's youth department coordinator, the men feasted on plates filled with bacon, bagels, eggs, fried fish, grits and sausage.

"Sit back, relax, eat and enjoy the good food we have prepared for you all, and then we are going to fellowship with one another," said Miles, whose youth department group sponsored the event.

The Rev. Earsel Lewis, a current member and former pastor of the church, blessed the food, and 9-year-old church member Arnez McNeal gave the welcome and occasion.

As the event continued, some of the men shared their thoughts about the importance of fatherhood.

Jermaine McNeal, 35, Arnez's father, talked about the importance of black men owning up to the responsibility of being fathers.

He said too many homes are led by single black women and that needs to change.

"I believe that if a man is there to help make a child, he needs to be there to help raise a child," said McNeal, adding that his father, Ron McNeal, a member of Bartley Temple, has been a great role model for him. "I thank the Lord for my father and I think he is a very great father. I am blessed to have a father like him because he has taught me a lot and he has always been there for me."

Charles Kelly, also a member of the church, said the essence of fatherhood is teaching children about the importance of citizenship, education and spiritual values — things his father instilled in him and his siblings.

"He made us sit down and talk to him for five minutes on a regular basis about different topics related to those three things because he wanted us to be prepared for the real world," Kelly said. "He did that so we would know how to work with and communicate with everybody. To be a good citizen, you have to be knowledgeable about what people are doing, and he made sure we were well-rounded citizens."

Also during the event, Miles spoke briefly about how the youth department at the church would like men to help with a couple of upcoming events. She said the youth department is looking for men to help with a carwash fundraising activity next month and she said men are needed to help with Vacation Bible School, which will be held from June 19-22 at the church.

"We are just trying to make sure that we have some men to come in and help with the youth and the community," Miles said.

To help ensure the car wash is as successful as it can possibly be, Lewis told the men they need to give a donation even if they don't have a car.

"Don't give $.50 cents either, give some dollars," Lewis said.

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