Mission and History
Urban Ministry is the inner city ministry of the United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Our mission is to serve poor and low-income persons in the Birmingham area with programs of compassion and wholeness. Compassion programs address immediate human needs, while wholeness programs address long-term human needs. Although Urban Ministry maintains its historic identity as a faith-based organization, all of our programs are offered on a completely non-sectarian basis.
Urban Ministry was founded in 1976 in North Birmingham as a response to the economic downturn that came as the steel factories moved overseas, taking many jobs with them. We responded by providing for basic needs through our Community Kitchen, food assistance, and emergency care programs. These programs have continued uninterrupted since that time. We now employ two full-time staff social workers to aid Beeson Senior Services clients and Homelessness Prevention clients. These case managers work with our clients long-term to achieve stability and independence. We also partner with the Church without Walls to offer a Transportation Ministry to our clients.
In 1986, we moved to our current location in the West End Community. Along with our direct services programs, we have established programs to have a more lasting and transforming impact in our community. Urban Kids was founded in 1987 to address the need for afterschool supervision and enrichment for kids in our neighborhood. It is now a holistic afterschool and summer learning program for students in this community in grades three through eight.
The Joe Rush Center for Urban Mission was founded to house work crews who visit Birmingham to paint houses for low-income homeowners. We now rehabilitate an average of 35 houses each year for low-income homeowners, most of them elderly or disabled. It is vital work to insure maintenance of housing and homeowners’ insurance in our community. In 2004, our dorm facility was relocated to a church in Midfield, where we can now sleep 80 volunteers.
WE Community Gardens was founded in 2008 in partnership with the Church Without Walls to create a source of fresh, organic produce in the West End Community, providing health and wellness education along with fair-wage jobs for youth interns. We now produce and donate over 2,000 pounds of food each year, and sell an additional 1,500 pounds of food at an affordable rate through our community markets.
Together, these programs address some of the more long-term causes and consequences of poverty in our community, and create opportunities for individuals to find wholeness as part of a healthy, supportive community.