The Little Inner-City Church Congregation That Could

Dr. BJ Ezell, DrPH, MSHI, BSHCA, ASRN, RN tells how one inner-city church congregation continued to support families of hospitalized children during a pandemic, without spending a dime

(left to right): Dr. BJ Ezell, Jayna Weiss (RMH Weekend Manager), Robert Edwards and Delia Poole
(front row left to right):Brenda Walker, Denise Cade, Nettie Brown, Betty Alexander, Mary Ezell, Dorothy Stewart, Anglia Cade, and Robert Edwards (back row left to right): Geraldine Evans, Irene Taylor, Delia Poole, Heidi Franklin, Vision fane, Thurman Ezell, and Dr. BJ Ezell


ORLANDO – Harvest Baptist Church (514 S. Parramore Avenue) was founded on September 8th, 1978 by Pastor Glendy Eugene Hamilton. Located in the inner city of Orlando, members never know if they will be seated next to a doctor, a lawyer, a construction worker, a school teacher, or even someone that might be high on drugs, inebriated or homeless. Everyone that comes through the doors is always welcomed at HBC. Pastor Hamilton is known throughout the country as a daily soul-winner.  He and his congregation eagerly share the gospel of Jesus Christ, praying with them as they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, forever saved from going to hell and gaining the assurance that they would live in Heaven after life here on earth ends. The ministry of HBC is to “Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing – Soul Winning!”

Pastor Hamilton is a walking, talking, living example of what it means to be a committed soul-winner, stating “Each day I try to tell someone about Jesus Christ, praying they will accept salvation. I have only missed a day here and there due to illness. Before my head hits the pillow at night, I go out to a dollar store, supermarket, bus stop, big box store, or just walk the street, or knock on doors. I love preaching and teaching about Jesus! At HBC we keep the Main Thing the Main Thing – Soul Winning! As described in Matthew 9:37 ‘Then saith HE unto HIS disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.’ (KJV)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and churches experienced intermittent and sometimes permanent closures. During the peak of the pandemic, Pastor Hamilton elected to embrace the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for vaccinating, wearing N95/KN95 masks, and diligent hand washing. HBC members and visitors, as approved by Pastor Hamilton, were cooperative, having their temperature taken, wearing masks, and social distancing at least 6 feet apart from others unless they were members of the same family. Anyone with a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater) and/or respiratory symptoms voluntarily refrained from entering the sanctuary and was encouraged to seek medical attention. As a result of strict adherence to these guidelines, this inner-city church never closed during the height of the pandemic.

Harvest Baptist Church, under their Pastor of 44 years, saint Glendy Hamilton, continued Sunday Morning Bible School and Worship Services – in person! All community outreach programs continued as well. Members were encouraged to continue telling people about Jesus – by phone, text, email, etc. Another initiative that continued was one of collecting pop tabs. Yes, the ones from the drinks in aluminum cans! On any given Sunday, prior to and after service, members and visitors could be seen delivering bags and containers full of ‘pop tabs’ to the designated collector, saint BJ Ezell, DrPH, MSHI, BSHCA, RN. The initiative for HBC to collect pop tabs began with Dr. BJ’s interest in finding something that the members (and visitors) could do to help a local organization with little to no funds, especially during the pandemic.

The Ah-ha moment came when Dr. BJ recalled, while working as a Registered Nurse, how Florida Hospitals often see and treat patients, and their families, under many different circumstances. They may be insured, uninsured, homeless, vacationing, etc. Many have little to no resources to fund a hotel stay when a relative is hospitalized for more than a day or two. The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Orlando provides housing for families with sick children that are hospitalized for extended periods of time. Dr. BJ learned of this organization many years ago and reached out to them by phone to find out if there was any way for the HBC family to help.

According to their website ( “Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida (RMHCCF) gives a family with a sick child what they need most – each other. RMHCCF finds, creates and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and families. Or cornerstone program, the Ronald McDonald House, provides a home away from home for families with children receiving treatment at hospitals and medical facilities in Orlando. Help us keep families close to their ill child.”

On Sunday, October 30th, 2022 following the 11am worship service, representatives from the Harvest Baptist Church congregation convened at the Ronald McDonald House at 1630 Kuhl Avenue in Orlando to make their donation. Dressed in shades of pink, in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they were greeted warmly by Ms. Jayna Weiss, the RMH Weekend Manager. The pop tabs from the aluminum cans are converted into funds that are then used to provide complimentary housing for the parents of children hospitalized at Orlando Health facilities.

Jayna, a 2022 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Services Administration, stated “The donation today by HBC will be added to a batch that needed more tabs before we could submit them to be converted to cash. This puts our collection over the top. Thank you!” Ms. Weiss was so welcoming to the group that her enthusiasm inspired them to continue their collections and further assist the RMHCCF’s programs.

The little church that remembers to ‘keep the Main Thing the Main Thing, Soul Winning” invites and challenges other local faith-based organizations, companies and families to join in this year-round effort. Other churches, organizations and individuals can participate by simply collection the pop tabs from drink cans. The pop tabs are then given to a coordinator or placed in a collection bin, located in an area convenient to those entering or exiting the church. Once a significant quantity has been collected, they will be taken to the local Ronald McDonald House, located at 630 Kuhl Ave; Orlando, FL 32806. They are open 24 hours and can be reached at 407-581-1289. If you would like assistance in getting the collections set up for your organization, please reach out to Dr. BJ Ezell at [email protected] .