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Black Belt Rural Development Summit 2020 Registration

March 18 - May 31

Due to COVID-19, this event has been postponed until the Fall.




Date: TBD for the Fall

 Cost: $20 per day

Location: 409 Elm Avenue, Americus, Georgia 31709



Please register ASAP so we can begin preparations. ALL are welcome on both days because different material will be covered. You do not have to fit into a particular category of leadership to attend any portion of the event. Both days will offer extensive training on the subject of community development, specifically in rural settings.


Non-Profit & Community Leaders

Date: TBD

  • 10:30 a.m. Registration Opens
  • 11:00 a.m. Introduction to Together for Hope
  • 12:00 p.m. Health & Nutrition (Eat while we meet!)
  • 12:45 p.m. Housing & Environment
  • 1:30 p.m. Break
  • 1:45 p.m. Education
  • 2:30 p.m. Social Enterprise
  • 3:15 p.m. Networking Session – choose one Priority of Hope: (Education, Health & Nutrition, Housing & Environment, Social Enterprise)
  • 4:00 p.m. Adjourn OR *Optional Site Visit 4-6 p.m.

*Optional Site Visits

1) Koinonia Farm Tour (Cost $5) – Koinonia was founded in 1942 by Clarence and Florence Jordan and Martin and Mabel England as a “demonstration plot for the kingdom of God.” This meant a community of believers sharing their lives, work and resources, following the example of the first Christian communities as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Attend a tour and learn the history and current ministry of Koinonia Farm.

2) Habitat for Humanity Global Village Tour (Cost $5) – The 6- acre village is a unique way to see life-size Habitat houses from countries around the world without leaving Southwest Georgia. Learn how Habitat for Humanity International works in partnership with families to build strength, stability and self-reliance.

3) Friends on a Mission Relief Center (free) – seethe vision of local change-makers who transformed an old sanctuary into a shelter that became a saving grace for hundreds of people. First, it housed Hurricane Katrina evacuees, but their doors remain open today to continue the work of transformation with the homeless community in Sumter County. The relief center provides job assistance and much more.


Clergy & Lay Leaders

Date: TBD

  • 9:30 a.m. Doors open (registration for those who did not attend on 5/1)
  • 10:00 a.m. Together for Hope/Community Development 101
  • 11:00 a.m. Priorities of Hope Panel (Eat while we meet!)
  • 12:00 p.m. Workshop Offerings
  • 1:00 p.m. Workshop Offerings


Workshop Descriptions

Deep Dive into Together for Hope: A Rural Development Coalition – the key to alleviating poverty in rural communities already exists within the people who live in them. If that is true, then the only question we should be asking is how can we walk alongside those in rural spaces in order to bring about transformation? Find out how you can participate! Facilitator: Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker

The Do’s and Don’ts of Mission Engagement in Rural Settings – ministry in rural communities is not the same as we might approach it in urban settings. Learn about the realities of rural living from a seasoned practitioner and how these realities affect the way we do missions. Facilitator: Lane Riley

Patches of Learning: How lessons gleaned in Thailand influence food security efforts in Immokalee, FL – Immokalee is an agricultural town in Southwest Florida where much of the America’s tomatoes, watermelons and other crops are grown. Despite such large-scale food production, various farmworker neighborhoods in the community are classified as food deserts. Explore the challenges of food insecurity with the aid of hindsight from previous experience in Thai hilltribe communities. Facilitators: Rick & Ellen Burnette


Summit Facilitators

Melissa Browning is a theologian, ethicist, and activist who studies community-based responses to injustice. She teaches seminary students at Columbia Theological Seminary where she is the Interim Director of Contextual Education and International Partnerships. Browning is committed to helping students, community members and congregations understand the deeper issues surrounding poverty and racism.

Jeremy Lewis serves as the Executive Director of Urban Recipe, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, GA, that runs food co-ops for the food insecure in order to stabilize families and create community. Lewis previously served as the National Coordinator for Together for Hope which focused on the 20 most economically disadvantaged rural counties in the U.S.

Harold Tessendorf has served as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity sites throughout Georgia in the cities of Savannah, Macon & Milledgeville between 2001-2019. He previously served as the Country Director for Concern Universal in Lichinga, Mozambique, where he managed local economic community development.

The Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker is the National Director of Together for Hope (TFH), the Rural Development Coalition of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Coker is originally from the Mississippi Delta. Having escaped the grinding poverty of the Delta, he felt compelled to connect resources with the needs in his home region. Coker founded Delta Hands for Hope (DHH) in 2013, which is a partner organization with TFH. Since its incorporation, DHH has become an award winning non-profit and has secured grants from the USDA that provides meals to children across Mississippi.



Days Inn Americus
Call 229-924-4001 by 4/15

Hampton Inn Americus
Call 229-924-3890 by 3/30

Koinonia Farms
Call 229-924-0391 for availability


March 18
May 31


Black Belt Rural Development Summit
409 Elm
Americus, GA 31709 United States
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