Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer
It’s that time of year- Vacation Bible School is wrapping up and “Rally Day” is on the horizon. Directors of Christian Education all over the country are breathing a sigh of relief that they have made it through another summer as they look around the office and wonder if they will ever get it organized again, much less, in time for next summer. When I was a child, this is the time of year I loved because my sisters and I had our mom (a Director of Christian Education) all to ourselves for a brief few weeks.
I am very familiar with the exhaustion that follows a summer full of VBS, camps, and special programming. Naturally, I was stunned to not only see a smile, but sheer excitement from Rev. Stephanie Arnold Workman at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church (Cary, NC) when I noted the camp materials littering her office this past Sunday. “Ahh- wrapping up from VBS, huh?” Right away her face lit up as she began telling me that the materials weren’t actually from VBS, but from the church’s Summer Enrichment Program.
Kirk of Kildaire backs up to a lower income, mostly Spanish, neighborhood. Knowing that there were members interested in education and who could speak Spanish, they began a tutoring program for the children in the neighborhood. This tutoring program has grown into a free, ten-week program over the summer led by both Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian and Greenwood Forest Baptist Church (just down the street). Every Monday and Thursday, church members volunteered to lead activities and provide food as the neighborhood children filled the buildings from 10am-noon.
As I listened to the brief recap of the last ten weeks, I began to wonder what the world would look like if more churches teamed up to meet the needs of the neighborhood. What if denomination was our final thought and “I wonder how we can serve the people who live around us” was our first thought? What if we did more than simply inviting our neighbors to worship or a one day fall festival, once a year?
Listening to the background of the Summer Enrichment Program, it sounds like it is such a success because of the tutoring program and constant ministry to the community. However, I think it goes even further than that. When children show up, they are greeted with smiles and excited volunteers with passion in the eyes, not just for the “goal on paper” for the program but for the children themselves, the “WHY?” of the program.
This Summer Enrichment Program serves as a great model for other congregations. What are the needs in your community, and further what are the passions in your own congregation? The next time your mission committee sits down to find a new partnership, look for the place where these two meet up and you just might have the starts of a successful ministry! I think that too often, we only see one or the other- the needs OR our passion. If the two don’t meet up, we might only see a dent in our budget with very little to show for it.