By Chinta Strausberg
Touched by the burning down of the Roseland Beacon Light Ministries Church on Dr. King’s official birthday, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. announced Wednesday, January 22, 2020, he is launching a relief drive for the pastor who feeds and clothes 75 families a week including the homeless.
To launch the relief drive Rev. Jackson and his staff planned a press conference the next day for Bishop Jerome Powell, Sr., whose once vibrant Beacon Light Ministries Church at 11034 S. Michigan Ave., burned down last January 15, 2020, along with the food pantry, which was located in the rear of the church.
The announcement on Thursday would ask the public to bring donations to the site of the burned-out church, which had been a resource center to the Roseland community. It is where Powell and his wife, Conswella, of 32 and a half years have fed and clothed people every Sunday. A truck parked at the church site would accept donations of non-perishable goods, clothing, toiletries, especially toilet paper, Depends for men and women, clothing including hats, coats, scarves, gloves and boots for men and women.
On Friday, January 24, the truck was scheduled to be parked outside of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition 930 E. 50th St., beginning at 7:30 a.m. and outside of the Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Dr., at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 25, where Rev. Jackson will hold his weekly Rainbow PUSH Coalition live broadcast.
When Bishop Powell was told that Rev. Jackson wanted to meet with him, he was stunned. Powell had not seen Rev. Jackson in person since he was either 10 or 11 years old.
Powell recalls attending a PUSH Expo at the Amphitheater as a youth and almost meeting Rev. Jackson. Because he was so short, Powell said people pushed him away as he tried to come in close contact with Jackson. “The closest I got to Rev. Jackson was his pant leg.”
Sitting in Rev. Jackson’s office, Bishop Powell and his wife wiped away tears when Rev. Jackson announced he would be holding the relief drive they need to continue their social justice charity work. Currently, they do not have a place to worship and will be outside of their burned-out church giving away care packages.
His wife said besides food and clothing they also gave away toys. The miracle that came out of the fire, Mrs. Powell said, was that the toy bin survived.
“While people doubted our return, I told them that we’re going to put our sign outside saying, ‘We will be here…business as usual.’ We are so grateful for this relief drive,” she said.
Joining hands, Rev. Jackson prayed for the successful return of their church and for a spirited relief drive.