Starting December 2009, First Baptist welcomes The Next Door to begin using office space in our building. The Next Door is a ministry with women coming out of prison that was was started by First Baptist Nashville in 2004.
In Nashville, the program is a six month residential transitional living program for women coming out of prison. The program offers case management, job placement, and recovery support services to help these women get on their feet. Since 2004, over 450 women have had the opportunity to go through the six-month curriculum designed to prepare them for living independently and establishing stable families.
The program has been so successful that it has gained national attention. President George W. Bush highlighted The Next Door as a top national model of a faith-based nonprofit providing recovery support services in his remarks during the national "Innovations in Effective Compassion Conference" hosted in June 2008 by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Statewide, it is estimated that at least 65% of women return to incarceration. The recidivism rate for women completing The Next Door’s six month program is 10%; for women staying at least 90 days in the program, the rate is 21%. Because of their success, The Next Door is expanding to Knoxville and to Chattanooga.
First Baptist Church of Knoxville is going to help launch this ministry in Knoxville by providing office space. Until a more permanent location in our building can be found, the Next Door offices will be housed in one of the small classrooms off of the pastoral class on the 3rd floor of the education building. In addition, since the jail is in our back yard, it makes sense for us to help reach out to this population. This is a wonderful opportunity for First Baptist to help a new ministry get started in our city.