The Revs. Drs. Gloria and Ray Hammond spoke Sunday morning at the Tabernacle. After years of addressing community health needs, they felt called to reach out to people’s spiritual needs. They were ordained and co-founded Bethel A.M.E. Church in Jamaica Plain, which grew from five people in their home to over 600 people today. The Hammonds and their outreaches provide incredible faith-based programs that help their community, the greater Boston community, and the world.
Among their many programs is Generation Excel, which includes Brighter Horizons for youthful offenders; “Do the Write Thing,” a writing mentoring program for at-risk adolescent girls; and Summer Odyssey, a recreational development program with sports, day camp and youth leadership initiatives.
The Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond is the chairman and co-founder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, a group of clergy from 40 churches working with high-risk youth. The coalition has been credited with the “Boston Miracle” — a drop in gang murders from 152 in 1990 to 31 in 1999. The Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond has written articles and papers on academic achievement and violence prevention.
The Rev. Dr. Gloria Hammond has made six trips to the Sudan, and was instrumental in freeing 10,000 women there, as well as in founding My Sister’s Keeper. Genocide prevention is part of their initiative, and both the Rev. Dr. Hammonds have served as medical missionaries. The Rev. Liz Walker also supports My Sister’s Keeper.
A new program the Hammonds are working with is a parenting program called Boston Basics. It deals with the achievement gap in high-risk populations. The science behind it is that 1) 80 percent of brain growth occurs in a child’s first 3 years, 2) racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities can be seen clearly by age 2, and 3) effective parenting in the first 3 years can close the gap. WGBH has produced training videos that can be seen on BostonBasics.org. The program is funded by the Black Philanthropy Fund, and has the support of the mayor, Boston Medical Center, and WGBH. It was outlined by Ron Ferguson Sunday evening at the Tabernacle.
The Rev. Ray calls what they are doing “a small effort to repay a huge debt.”
Dr. Eleanor Gorsey