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They envision freeing prisoners financially

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Don and Katy Singletary are looking forward to a new day when prisoners leaving the Mayo Correctional Institute will be able to face leaving prison with a new vision of financial responsibility.

Often, inmates are fearful of what they will face when released. Too often they may return to prison after being ill-equipped to face the reality of the high cost of living.

“I see people falling into debt and I see the other end,” said Don Singletary, a corrections officer at the prison for 18 years. “I see a lot of people in prison because they were trying to make money the easy way to get themselves out of debt.”

The Singletarys are members of New Hope Baptist Church in Mayo, Fla. The couple attended the March 22-23 “It’s A New Day: How Will You Spend It?” conference in Orlando to further develop their vision to become financial coaches and lead small groups in their community — which includes the large men’s correctional center where Don works and where Katy worked until medical retirement several years ago.

The conference is part of a new initiative for Southern Baptists in a collaborative relationship with Crown Financial Ministries. Last year Southern Baptists moved the ministry assignment for stewardship to the Executive Committee, which sponsored the conference, from LifeWay Christian Resources.

Don Singletary said he was impressed with the organization and resources available at the two-day event, while Katy was most taken with the personal testimonies she said encouraged her. The two plan to share the information with their pastor and the prison warden.

Sometimes discouraged about the small church they attend, Don told the Florida Baptist Witness he is now determined not to find a new church — but to instead grow the church, in part by offering practical financial solutions found in biblical principals.

Clifford Morgan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Baker, Fla., told the Witness he is excited about the partnership between the Southern Baptist Convention and Crown Financial Ministries.

“I came expecting answers that I can take back to my church to help lead my church out of personal financial debt for those willing to take the journey with us,” said Morgan, a former Marine who also worked for N.C.I.S. (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and the Florida State Highway Patrol before surrendering to fulltime ministry as a pastor.

Morgan, a member of the Florida Baptist State Convention’s State Board of Missions, said he came away from the conference more determined to “lead by example” in the area of finances.

“(The conference) has given me answers to questions; it has validated some things my wife and I have been personally doing in our financial lives; (and) it has shown areas that we need to give more diligence in our personal financial lives,” Morgan said. “It has also given us hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that financial freedom is attainable, even with the interest rates of today.”
The next “It’s A New Day” conference is scheduled April 12-13 in Atlanta. To register or for more information, go online to www.sbc.net or call Terry Doherty at 615-782-8680. Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.FloridaBaptistWitness.com.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan/Florida Baptist Witness