Ellis: nonprofits, churches can lead Frayser

Mike Ellis has made history while pastoring Frayser’s Impact Baptist Church, becoming the first African-American to be named an officer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention
Mike Ellis spent 21 years in the Navy as a human resources chief before becoming Pastor of Frayser’s Impact Baptist Church 10 years ago. Ellis is also the first African-American to be named an officer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
What is your association to Frayser?
I work and worship in Frayser and while my wife and I don’t live here, my wife claims I live at the church so I may as well say I live here. We have family and friends in Frayser and we own a rental home there as well. We love Frayser.
Work, family, own, we love Frayser
What are your biggest concerns for Frayser?
A lack of resources – we need more businesses and restaurants, and the increase in crime.
How do you see the community overcoming those concerns?
By the nonprofits and churches being afforded the opportunity to receive grants and resources to help to revitalize the community.
What makes Frayser special to you?
The people.
What do you wish Memphians understood about Frayser?
That Frayser has a community of residents who love our community and have a deep passion and concern about the welfare and revitalization of our community. What I’d really love for people outside of Frayser to know is that we have capable and competent leaders working to provide for the neighborhood.
What can smart neighborhoods learn from Frayser?
That Frayser’s people have the ability to work together with passion and love for the neighborhood and its residents. Our business, churches and nonprofits are all willing to work together to make Frayser better.
What can the faith-based community do to serve Frayser?
Work together. Bring all of our resources together to meet the needs of our community.
Can you tell me about being the first African-American elected to lead the Tennessee Baptist Convention?
I am the first African-American to serve as president of the TBC in 141 years and it has been an honor. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the country and especially our state. It has created a wonderful image for our convention and indicates to the world that we can do more with diversity.  
How does Impact Baptist Church serve Frayser?
We serve Frayser in a variety of ways. We have a a literacy program with a partnership with 5 for 5,a K-12 charter school housed out of Frayser, and a partnership with Hope Works to establish an adult education program. We also serve the neighborhood with a clothes closet, a community center, backpack giveaways for school children, block parties, and a food ministry. We have a community development corporation – we own and rent houses in Frayser and Northaven. If participants pay rent on time for one year we get the house appraised and sell it to them at a decreased price and tote the note for them so they don’t have to pay interest to the bank.
Frayser and Impact Baptist Church have established a relationship with our county government working together to make our community a better community, particularly with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. Impact Baptist Church and Mayor Luttrell have partnered on several ventures to revitalize houses and turn a former fire station into a community center. It’s key to note that nonprofits and government can work together on improving neighborhoods.
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Amy Hoyt is High Ground News' Community Engagement Specialist, which suits her love of Memphis and its inhabitants.