Sallie A Crenshaw Bethlehem Center celebrates 90 years of Service

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

The Bethlehem Center, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee is an award-winning, faith-based agency dedicated to transforming lives and communities through programs and ministries focused on Character Development, Education/Literacy, and Leadership

The Bethlehem Center seeks empowerment for Chattanooga’s inner city community through providing spiritual growth, education and leadership development.        Named after Sallie A. Crenshaw, the first female black Minister to be ordained in the United Methodist Church, the Bethlehem Center has been in service in Chattanooga for 90 years.     As part of the celebration, the Beth center has established a history exhibit in their building at 200 W. 38th Street which houses photos of the great Reggie White of NFL and former city Commissioner John Franklin Senior along with a history of performing and visual arts, the Civil Rights Movement, and a memorial to Sallie A Crenshaw who opened a successful mission in 1947 to provide spiritual nourishment for the Alton Park Community along with an adequate day care for the children in the community, according to Common Ground from the Department of Neighborhood Services and Community Development.

The Bethlehem Center serves over 200 youth each Summer with “educational enrichment, food assistance, mentoring, recreation and counseling,” according to the SE Career Center.

Chattanooga Creek reports this about the Bethlehem Education Program:

The Beth’s education programs strive to cause dramatic, positive changes in the
lives of children trapped in an environment of poverty, illiteracy, violence, substance
abuse, brokenness, and hopelessness through no fault of their own. Secondarily, the
goal is to provide youth and adults with “second chances” to acquire the tools to make
the same dramatic and positive changes in their lives.

“Coach” Lurone Jennings is the Executive Director for the Bethlehem Center.     With a background in education and the distinction of having coached both Reggie White and Venus Lacy in their youth, Jennings is one of the founders of the Bethlehem Community Development Credit Union which is the first of its kind to be chartered in the state of Tennessee.      Jennings has written a book entitled, “Crisis in Urban America” which can be purchased here through the Bethlehem Center website.

Jennings is also the creator and co-host of the radio show, “Pep Talk” that ‘offers sound and encouraging advice to listeners” on WGOW each Monday at 7:00p.m..       For more information about the work of Coach, Lurone Jennings and the history and mission of Chattanooga’s Bethlehem Center, click here.

In cooperation with Brainerd United Methodist Church, the Beth will be opening the new Bethlehem Resource Center at 4311 Brainerd road on October 1st, 2010.      Headed up by Operations Director Lori Carter, the resource center will feature local shopping, consignment, resale, promotion of local food and culture along with health and wellness classes, support groups, job opportunities and training for the under served citizens and the list of resources goes on.      More about the new Bethlehem Resource Center will be fourth coming.

Listen to the Story with Coach Lurone Jennings:


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One Response to “Sallie A Crenshaw Bethlehem Center celebrates 90 years of Service”

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