Archie Jenkins, South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church Member, Recognized as a Founding Member of UCOM
Archie Jenkins, a life-long member of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, was among those recently recognized as founders of United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM) at the organization’s 40th Anniversary Gala.
UCOM’s websote describes the beginning of the organization in this way: The seeds for UCOM started in 1978 when Laura Gordon, former Associate Executive Presbyter for our presbytery, met with five Southside Jacksonville Churches: All Saints Episcopal, Lakewood Presbyterian, Mt. Oliver Baptist, Mt. Zion AME, and South Jacksonville Presbyterian. They discussed the possibility of expanding the city’s federally funded Meals-on-Wheels program to Pine Forest, an impoverished Southside Jacksonville community.
At the time UCOM was founded, Archie Jenkins was working part-time for South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church as youth director and outreach minister and had just recently completed a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, studying how our faith spoke to issues of inequality and oppression. With an undergraduate education in economics, and a Wealth Manager by trade, his focus at Princeton was on theology of the oppressed, liberation theology, urban economics, and poverty economics. Archie’s field experience included working within the oppressed and impoverished community of Newark, which allowed him the opportunity to observe the work of the National Council of Christians and Jews and the Newark Human Rights Commission.
Archie’s education, experience, and continuing passion were instrumental in laying the groundwork for UCOM’s model of ministry in Jacksonville’s Southside community. UCOM’s three primary programs includes:
- the largest volunteer Meals on Wheels program in Jacksonville, with over one million meals served,
- a food pantry which receives donations from over 50 churches / faith-based organizations and business partners, and
- a program which provides scholarships for CNA training, offering participants a way out of poverty and an entry into other healthcare professions. Over 600 diplomas have been received by the participants.
Another key founder, Nathaniel Washington, recently deceased, was present in spirit as Chairman of UCOM’s 40th Anniversary Gala. Nat was an educator, coach, advocate, and motivator for minority youth who needed skills to step up and out of poverty. Nat spearheaded the Minority Youth Employment program. Archie considers Nat to be “the single most influential person in the storied history of UCOM.”
In presenting the award to Archie Jenkins, Matt Carlucci remarked that when the opportunity for UCOM to secure a city grant to buy a permanent home (what had once been the old Phillips Congregational Church built in 1876 by the emancipated African-Americans as their house of worship), “Archie was the first person I called for help!” He also remarked that “while there were 12 founding churches … Archie founded this ministry that has helped thousands of people right in our backyards!”
Archie is quick to recognize that UCOM’s success is due to the combined efforts of “the Holy Spirit, other key founding members, invaluable volunteers and Executive Directors.”
Congratulations, Archie, and thank you to our presbytery churches that support UCOM, working together with other faith groups, business partners and community leaders to change the narrative for the oppressed and impoverished in Jacksonville’s Southside.