Back Bay Mission October Conference Invites Everyone to ‘Make Good Trouble’

Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., takes seriously its mission to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice and transform lives through programs in education, empowerment, housing rehabilitation, and more. This year — as it celebrates its 100th anniversary — the CHHSM member has developed a new avenue for helping to fulfill that mission: its ‘Making Good Trouble’ Conference, to be held Oct. 13-16, 2022.

The conference will bring local and national experts on social equity issues to attendees. “As a nod to John Lewis and his work in the social and political arenas, we will use his theme of ‘Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble’ throughout the conference to lift up the intersectionality of environmental justice, the need for connection and inclusion, and the role the progressive church can play,” said the Rev. James Pennington, Back Bay’s executive director.

Part of delivering that progressive voice will be a closing worship service on Sunday, Oct. 16. The service — the first UCC Sunday morning service since Biloxi UCC closed in 1974 — will include the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, delivering the sermon, along with several UCC leaders helping to lead worship and reflections afterwards. Since 1974, Back Bay has been the only UCC voice on the Gulf Coast, though thanks to Back Bay, UCC presence on the Gulf Coast goes back 100 years (including the UCC’s predecessor denominations).

The conference opens Oct. 13 with a special presentation called “In Their Shoes.” The presentation will give attendees a look at what it’s like to come to Back Bay for help —  a sobering examination of how being homeless impacts people’s lives. The day will include a special ribbon cutting and anniversary celebration with the Back Bay community, board members, advisory council, and staff.

“The most meaningful part will be the impact the ‘In Your Shoes’ presentation makes on participants and what they bring back to their communities, friends and families,” said Laura Payne Breeland, Back Bay’s director of development. “We are hoping the messages grow bigger and expand to reach more individuals and start making a meaningful impact.”

The Back Bay Mission campus in Biloxi, Miss.

Expanding its reach and impact is an ongoing theme throughout Back Bay’s 100th anniversary year. It is increasing media coverage of events as well as working with UCC churches and conferences, and community organizations like Chambers of Commerce and local businesses, to raise awareness. Additionally, it is hosting three ‘Making Good Trouble’ informational sessions before the conference, which are open to everyone:

“If any single thing has come to be known in these past few years, it is this: We desire connection. All of us. Connection feeds our souls and fuels our creativity,” said the Rev. Phil Hodson, conference minister of the UCC’s South Central Conference. “So much of our world, from the smallest family to the largest enterprise, is inter-connected. In the church, and industry, our ability to partner is key to crafting new solutions, mobilizing energy, and unleashing creativity. Simply put, we’re better together.”

Friday, Oct. 14, is the “Making Good Trouble” Conference Day, limited to 100 attendees. Guest speakers include Dorhauer, Hodson and Pennington; Lauren Turner, owner and chef of Makin’ Groceries; Renee Collini, regional coastal environmental climate resilience specialist, program for local adaptation to climate effects, Mississippi State University; and Katherine Egland, director of the Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate, and Health Organization (EEECHO).

A highlight of the conference will be a Back Bay Shrimp Boil at Shaggy’s in Biloxi.

The final event of the day will be one of Back Bay’s famous Shrimp Boils, to be held at Shaggy’s on the Gulf Coast. Attendees will be able to hear how the shrimp boils saved Back Bay Mission.

Following a morning breakfast and fellowship time, conference participants will have the day of Oct. 15 to enjoy the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The day will end with sunset beach bonfire, complete with hot dogs and smores.

The conference will conclude with the worship service Sunday morning, sending participants home filled with new information and inspiration to share with their local churches and communities.

For Executive Director Pennington, the conference is a chance to amplify the UCC’s voice on the Gulf Coast as Back Bay Mission increases its work for social justice.

“Rep. John Lewis said, ‘Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble,’” said Pennington. “We stand on the shoulders of great individuals like John Lewis who created trouble — good trouble. May we be encouraged to be good troublemakers for the cause of equity, justice, and the liberation of all people.”

Tickets and various levels of sponsorship are available.

Purchase tickets.

Those preferring to mail in a check or who have questions regarding sponsorships, contact Laura Payne Breeland or Kevin Kotula.

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