Back Bay Mission has a proud history of service on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In the 1920s & 1930s, the Evangelical and Reformed Church [a predecessor denomination to the United Church of Christ (UCC)] conducted outreach programs to the ‘fisher folk’ of the Back Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. By the 1950s, that outreach was formalized with a Back Bay Administrative Board with a relationship to the newly formed UCC denomination. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the Mission. Six out of seven buildings were damaged beyond repair and the Mission was forced to operate out of the Executive Director’s home for a time. The Mission quickly obtained modular trailers and began serving once more. The Mission reopened the administrative building in 2007 and now has a Mission House with two dormitory sleeping areas, common living areas, and a well-equipped kitchen for the more than 800 volunteers a year on work camp/mission trips.
In January 2015, the Back Bay Mission Board hired Dr. Alice Marie Graham as Executive Director. Dr. Graham has a long history serving non-profit organizations after teaching on the university level. Although ordained in the American Baptist Churches of the South, Dr. Graham’s ministry is ecumenical in its focus. She comes to the Mission from her position as Executive Director of the Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force. Her background in pastoral care and counseling at Hood Theological Seminary, churches, and counseling centers is invaluable in the program areas emphasized at Back Bay Mission. She will bring greetings from the Mission at the Shrimp Boil on August 26, sponsored by the Pleasant Hill Community Church, UCC in Pleasant Hill, TN. This meal prepared by visiting Shrimp Boil chefs will raise money to send a Work Camp/Mission Team from the PH Community Church to Biloxi in November as well as raise donations for Back Bay Mission programs.
Back Bay Mission has a simple goal: to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives. They strengthen neighborhoods through ministries like education and empowerment programs and a housing rehabilitation program. These vital ministries help the people served be a part of, and build, their communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As volunteers take what they learn at Back Bay Mission home with them, they have the opportunity to strengthen their own neighborhoods. They seek justice by helping the people served become more involved in their communities, educating people about the realities of poverty, and advocating on behalf of marginalized people in the community. All of Back Bay Mission programs transform lives. Whether helping homeowners keep their homes, mentoring a single mother as she plans her path out of poverty, or working with an intern who is thinking about a career in social work, they’re making the lives of the people better.
Back Bay Mission’s emergency assistance program provides financial and material help to people in need. The Mission operates the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s only client choice food pantry. The Micah Day Center provides a safe and hospitable place for homeless and low-income people to connect to vital services. The Mission provides limited help with utilities, prescription medicines, and aid in obtaining vital documents. Back Bay Mission takes on about 20 housing restoration projects each year. Dr. Graham will preach in the PH Community Church at the 10:45 am Worship Service on Sunday, August 27 giving many more details about Back Bay Mission.