Volunteer Tonya Young, left, and Pastor Ella Clay outside Historic First Community Church after the service.

By Alison Decker

NASHVILLE, TN — The Christmas season brings people from all walks of life together to rejoice regardless of color, circumstance, or class. At Historic First Community Church Pastor Ella Clay and staff work to bring Nashville locals together through workshops offered by Healing Minds and Souls, a faith-based community that provides educational classes to address trauma. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic many churches closed their doors and were not able to allocate resources for the community due to the lockdown. However, Historic First Community Church still offered online worship and resources for the community that were greatly needed during such a time of uncertainty. 

Healing Minds and Souls offers four different classes that run a course of eight weeks; once a class begins participants stay with the people that started that first class alongside them. Classes offered include trauma healing, faith and finance, the story of God, and boundaries. During the Christmas season, the classes Season of Hope and Harmony’s theme was the advent calendar. The workshop ran from December 8th through the 18th. 

Tonya Young, a substitute teacher and church volunteer for nearly three years, said the tornado in the Spring of 2020 that hit her home in North Nashville greatly impacted her family. 

“We survived, but there was damage to the roof of our home and being a single mom, my resources were limited,” she said.

The Young family was without power for two weeks and the community came together to rebuild pieces of the roof that were torn away due to the Category 3 tornado. Young discovered the power of community in times of need, and decided then that she would like to bless it back by volunteering for the church.  

She added that the Historic First Community Church has been a saving grace for her and her three sons. When a lot of the other churches and organizations stopped helping, Historic First never did. The Story of God class at the church helped her working through the trauma of losing her daughter, Janesia Fay Anntwanette Young at 19 years old to gun violence. 

“Just because I think a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way but through discussions in the classes, I was able to relate to different perspectives. Somebody out looking in will always have a different perspective. Thinking back on my life now I think, what can I do more of with everything going on in the World today?” 

Young said, “Come sit, watch, and observe at the first class and share when you feel comfortable. Whatever is said in the classes, stays in the classes. You will learn so much from it.”

Although classes are finishing up for the holiday season, Pastor Clay said that the church’s work is just beginning for the coming New Year. Sunday, January 8, 2023, beginning at 11 o’clock a.m., a service will proceed in dedication of 90 years of service in Nashville. Titled “God of our Past, Present, & Future: 90 years of Faith & Service”— Ephesians 1:9-12 NKJV.  

Pastor Clay said she feels extremely blessed to be able to serve in her community.

Currently the church has 30 to 40 volunteers including Hands On Nashville, an organization that donates food to the community. Post-pandemic complications and inflation have impacted the church. They currently need more donors and volunteers to sustain their church programs, Pastor Clay said. These include educational classes for the community, food assistance and resources for the community and participants. More information on how to become a donor is on their website at Healing Minds and Souls at https://www.my-healing-center.com. Prayers for the organization and its participants are always appreciated as well.