From the very beginning, The Jobs Partnership has been in partnership with the Church. It all began in Raleigh, North Carolina when Rev. Donald McCoy and construction executive Chris Mangum began meeting regularly for lunch after Mangum worked on a parking lot for Rev. McCoy’s church. Over the course of these lunches, Mangum revealed that he was struggling to find drivers for his trucks, while Rev. McCoy expressed that he had men in his church struggling to find jobs. They immediately saw an opportunity to solve both problems by working together. With this new-found partnership, McCoy reached out to other churches in the community and began the “faith and work” initiative. Marc Stanakis encountered this model at a conference in Washington, D.C., and brought it to the Workforce 2020 workforce development initiative in Florida. Its success in the pilot program led to formation of The Jobs Partnership.
“Our church had a desire to transform a particular community in Orlando, but we didn’t want it to be a band-aid approach. We wanted to change a community, systemically, over the long-term,” recounts Dr. David Swanson, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. “We asked, what are the models out there that are doing it effectively? That’s how we found Jobs Partnership.”
The Jobs Partnership’s way of community transformation stands out from other job-training programs. Built on the Biblical truth that all people are created and designed by God to work, The Jobs Partnership provides the framework for churches to mobilize their congregations to serve the poor through an innovative, no-cost training program for struggling men and women called LifeWorks. LifeWorks is complemented by The Jobs Partnership’s vast Educational and Community Partners, along with a network of over 200 Employers.
“The value for our church has been to engage really gifted business leaders in a way that’s going to grow and build the Kingdom–to help them see the connection between their gifts and what the needs are in the community.” Dr. Swanson continues. “There’s been value in allowing our people to see that not everyone has had the same opportunities they’ve had, and that there are people who, with just a little extra help can begin to find employment…and it just lifts who they are.”
Churches looking to see their congregation grow in service see The Jobs Partnership as a stepping stone for their volunteers, who may go on to even greater commitments. Volunteers commit to the 12 week program, and oftentimes, their passion for volunteering doesn’t stop there. Following the program, many church members continue into other ministries, engaging in their purpose in a deeper way.
“What Jobs Partnership does is offer this incredible opportunity to develop a habit of service. It’s not an afternoon serving. It’s walking alongside with people who are underemployed or unemployed for a season,” says Lynette Fields, Director of Missions at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. “That has helped us, having that in-depth type of ministry, meet our goal of discipleship not only with a longer-term commitment but also developing a relationship with people who are very different, or who they may not come in contact with each other in everyday life. They are able to become committed to each other for this particular journey. If it’s meaningful, if it’s relevant, if volunteers can use their particular gifts, passions, strengths and they can see that it makes a difference…whether they get a thank you, or whether they get a reward is not as important as whether their time is valued.”
Working with The Jobs Partnership, churches are able to take part in highly relevant ministry. They see their congregation serving the poor and providing help to struggling families in their church. By discovering community resources for their members, churches are able to build a network that will benefit their members. Churches are able to build cross-denominational church relationships and extend their exposure and reach in the community.
“If you just try engaging with The Jobs Partnership, from any vantage point; sending Volunteers, sending Students, going to graduation, or volunteering to speak in one of the classes, you’ll see how valuable the program is,” says Leroy Rose III, Senior Pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando.
“Many times you have Students right in your congregation, and you are a gatekeeper,” says Dr. Sylvester Robinson, Senior Pastor of Love Fellowship Christian Church and The Jobs Partnership Board Chairman. “Often the Students might not be sitting in the room but as you minister, someone is going to tell their cousin who will tell their cousin that there’s a program you can engage with. ‘Come with me, let’s go talk to the pastor, let’s go online, let’s fill out the application. Let’s get involved with this program called The Jobs Partnership.’ I’m telling you, it works.”