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2016: Joining Hands to Lift Children

By Dr. Mary Love

Hood Theological Seminary joined in partnership with the Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children In Poverty during the fall semester by offering two “Joining Hands to Lift Children” summits in the community for those who work with children.

The summits were held in Montgomery, AL (October 10) and Rock Hill, SC (Oct. 31). Dr. Mary Love, Adjunct Professor of Christian Education taught a children’s Ministry class with 14 students, (4 in Alabama and 10 in North/South Carolina). The class was challenged to take what they were learning and share in a training opportunity for persons who work with children. The class explored current data regarding the conditions of children, the development of children, needs, faith development in children, parenting, developing a children’s ministry, the ministry of children to others and other issues and resources related to children. Connection was also made with the Children’s Defense Fund and the celebration of Children’s Sabbaths using the CDF theme. The theme, goal and 7-fold purpose of the summits is given below:

Theme: “How Long Must I Cry? Bending the ARC towards God’s Vision of Justice for Children” (CDF)

Goal: To bring persons together across denominational lines who work with children and are willing to explore ways to make a difference in the lives of children

    7-Fold PURPOSE:
  1. To address the issues and needs of children
  2. To identify ways that the church can make a difference (LIFT children) in the lives of children by structuring an inclusive environment and promoting hospitality for all
  3. To provide training for persons who work with children and provide assistance to parents and grandparents, especially those rearing grandchildren
  4. To connect with the Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children in Poverty and participate as the Hood Seminary Children’s Ministry class to plan and provide training that aids in LIFTING children (The campaign booklet was distributed at each summit.)
  5. To encourage congregations in an area to be intentional in sharing the task of making a difference in the lives of children and developing a coalition for future work that LIFTS children
  6. To form partnerships with schools and agencies serving children
  7. To explore opportunities for advocacy for the sake of children

Please note that the word “LIFT” is central to this experience as the students developed an acronym to capture the focus and to show that focus visually.

L stands for LOVE which all children need to survive.
I stands for INSPIRE which should be extended to all children.
F stands for FILL which is reflected as a child is a vessel in need of receiving deposits of wisdom, information, guidance, etc.
T stands for TEACHING which is a God-given responsibility to parents and others adults (Proverbs 22:6).

Litany: A litany of awareness was used at each of the summits to set the tone with worship and awareness raising. The scriptures used were Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-5 and Mark 10: 13-16. This litany was modified from a litany developed and used at the first summit in 2009.

The Alabama Summit was held at Old Ship A. M. E. Zion Church in Montgomery (Dr. Kathy McFadden-Pastor). Approximately thirty people attended representing several A. M. E. Zion Churches in the area. Presentations were given by four A. M. E. Zion Hood Students (Catrina Waters, Jestine Sanford, T. J. Betts and Clemmie Palmer). Participants were given packets that contained the handouts from the presenters, plus resource books that addressed parenting, child abuse and child sexual abuse, Internet protection of children, Community challenges, and economic stress. Displays were provided. Issues presented during the summit focused on twelve necessary areas to lift children.

They included the following:
1. Knowing the statistics that reveal what is happening to children
2. Understanding biblical directives for the care of children
3. Understanding how children develop
4. Knowing how to set the tone for spiritual connections within the home
5. Assisting parents in developing good parenting skills and strong family relationships
6. Addressing the emotional care of children
7. Understanding ways to protect child and detect child abuse
8. Using the Internet with children and protecting children in their use of the Internet
9. Identifying ways congregations can address children’s needs through intentional ministries and partnerships
10. Understanding how the decisions made by adults affect children on all levels
11. Identifying resources to aid in LIFTING Children
12. Exploring possibilities and plans for the future

The North/South Carolina Summit was held at the Kenneth Monroe Transformation Center in Rock Hill, SC on October 31 (Bishop Kenneth Monroe – Presiding Bishop, South Atlantic Episcopal District). Seventy-seven people registered along with 10 students and the Children’s Ministry class instructor, Dr. Mary Love. This group represented the A. M. E. Zion, A. M. E., U. M. C. and Baptist denominations. Attendees were from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Presentations were given by ten Hood Students who were members of the class [Gloria McCorkle ( A. M. E. Z.), Diedra Jenkins (U.M.C.), Charlrean Mapson (A. M. E. Z.), Kevin Griffin (Baptist), Antonio Smith (Baptist), Mack McDowell (U. M. C.), Anthony Davis (A. M. E. Z.), Stanley Rivers (A.M.E.), Augustine Kotee ( A. M. E. Z.), and Marcus Fairley (Baptist)]. Participants were given packets that contained the handouts from the presenters, plus resource books described above and added resources on bullying and how violence affects children. Three break-out sessions were held to address parenting, emotional care and technology. A display was provided. Issues presented during the summit focused on the twelve necessary areas to lift children listed above, adding ways to develop an inclusive and hospitable environment.

The date for the next summit has been set for October 15, 2016 at the Epworth Children's Home in Columbia in Columbia, SC.

The North/South Carolina Summit was originally scheduled to be in Columbia at the Epworth Home for Children. This area experienced damage due to the heavy rains and flooding. As a result, the summit was moved to Rock Hill after consultation with Bishop Jonathan Holston. Those attending the summit gave a financial contribution totaling $1,400.00 to be sent to Bishop Holston for use for children impacted by the flooding in the Columbia area.

Great enthusiasm was generated in this group and seven persons volunteered to form a team to explore next steps. They include Brenda Chisholm (A. M. E. Z.), Betty Mackey (A. M. E. Z.), Syteria Townsend (A. M. E. Z.), Paris Sexton(A. M. E. Z.), Chase Graham (A. M. E.), Kevin Griffin (Baptist) and Allison Stradford (A. M. E.). This group had its initial meeting on November 5. It was determined then that a summary duplication of the Children’s Summit would occur on November 21, 2015 as a part of the Pee Dee Conference of the A. M. E. Zion Church that would be held at the Kenneth Monroe Transformation Center in Rock Hill. The target audience would be Christian educators and pastors. Full student participation was not possible for this event; therefore Kevin Griffin agreed to take leadership in this mini-summit.

Report of Hood Seminary Children and Poverty Initiative – 2012