Launched by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward at the 2013 Annual Conference, Congregations 4 Children will be one of the mission breakout sessions on Friday morning at the 2015 Annual Conference. Come and catch the vision for congregations connecting with schools across the state, to share our love for Christ with our neighbors (school children and teachers in our neighborhoods). A featured speaker at the June 12, 2015 session will be Dr. June Atkinson, NC State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who helped cast the original vision for NC Conference churches to help transform the lives of children by partnering with public schools.
Consistent with John Wesley’s focus on ministry with the poor and our Methodist heritage, the goal of C4C is to help lift children out of poverty. According to the Kids Count Data Center, over 25 percent of NC children live at or below the poverty level. In many public schools, the majority of school age children are on the free or reduced lunch program. To achieve its goal, C4C focuses on three areas: 1) Help Improve K-3 Literacy Skills; 2) Help Provide for Basic Needs (food, clothing, supplies); and 3 Help Increase Involvement of Parents and Other Caring Adults. Within each focus area, there are many options for how church communities can become involved. There is something every church can do, regardless of its size.
At a recent Capital District IMPACT Mission Celebration, representatives from various churches shared their success stories and the wisdom they have gained from working in partnership with schools to improve the lives of children. Sanda Hight shared the story of the Hand-in-Hand ministry at Winstead UMC (Wilson, NC). Winstead UMC began working with Vick Elementary School in 2001. They started with tutoring and prayer partners. Since then, the school based ministry has expanded to include an annual donation of school supplies, classroom buddies who bring treats and supplies to students at the school, birthday remembrances, a Teacher Appreciation Week celebration, Christmas Angel Tree for needy Vick Elementary students, and a special worship service once a year. Sanda emphasizes that the secret of Winstead UMC’s success is to involve as many people as possible, people of all ages. The result has been a marked improvement in student test scores and the appearance of the school.
The Congregations 4 Children model is based on Best Practices, proven to work. To assist you, trained NCC district coordinators are available to help churches through a 12 step process for success and to help you avoid common mistakes that occur through trial and error. For a complete list of district C4C coordinators, please contact Pat Litzinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kathy Duncan at email@example.com. To share your church’s story and read about others experiences with C4C, please join our open Facebook group Congregations for Children – NCCUMC.