First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield, is hosting a series of events aimed at increasing awareness about poverty in Johnston County, according to the pastor, the Rev. Sterling Freeman.
The work is in observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and based on King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.
Freeman says the church is hosting activities that “will shine a light on this issue of poverty.” Freeman sites data including information from the Johnston County Health Department that says 17.4 percent of the county’s residents are identified at poverty level. According to county data 20 percent of county residents ages of 0-64, don’t have health insurance. Freeman notes that 27,600 of Johnston County residents are eligible for Medicaid. This represents 16 percent of the total population. “Knowing that Johnston County is representative of a global poverty epidemic this is why First Missionary Baptist Church is launching this project,” Freeman said.