Back-to-School Events Bless Local Communities

9/11/2014

From sock drives to health fairs, our local congregations are blessing children and families with assistance in kicking off a successful school year. Fall brings great opportunities to Invest in the Young, both inside and outside of the church. Here are just a few examples:
 
Yellow busses and boxes of crayons seem to multiply when summer winds down and school gets underway. This time of year provides rich opportunities to minister to students in the nearby community, as well as students in your local congregation.
 
Back-to-School Provides A Fun Internal Focus
As students return to their new Sunday school classrooms, consider what you can do to get the new year off to a great start. For example, consider playing a “name game” to help everyone get better acquainted, have children sit in a circle. The teacher can begin by saying his/her name while holding on to the end of a ball of yarn. Students can respond, “Hi, Miss Ginger.” Then roll the ball across the circle to someone else and have the group respond with a greeting when they announce their name. As everyone holds on to the string they received, the introductions soon form a web. Use this opportunity to discuss how all are connected to each other and class will not be the same without everyone there. Whether a game or prayer initiative, any back-to-school, back-to-church activities can bring new energy to the class and make students feel loved and welcomed.
 
Back-to-School Provides Great External Focus
In early August, the TAC Committee on Religion and Race, led by Rev. Mark Welshimer, helped promote a community health fair and back-to-school block party at St. John's UMC Northwest campus in Houston.  St. John's NW hosted over 30 health care vendors, including Methodist Hospital, Walgreen's, and Houston Health and Human Services, that provided many services to the residents. The Houston Fire and Police departments, the Houston Public Library, and a local mariachi band helped bring additional dimensions to the event. More than 250 people participated in the health fair, which helped to introduce St. John's NW as a community of faith that loves people and desires to care for the minds, bodies, and spirits of community residents.
 
Holy Covenant UMC in Katy brought a group of youth volunteers to help with the health fair and new Central South District Superintendent Andy Noel attended to greet participants. This event would not have been possible without the support of and the Committee on Religion and Race.
 
Kids Helping Kids
At this time of year, the children of L.F. Smith Elementary benefit in a special way from the kindness of youngsters about their size from Sunset UMC, Pasadena.  On a recent Sunday, the preschoolers arrived to Sunday school carrying socks and underwear for elementary students going “back to school.” As part of their ‘mission month’ the children collected almost 300 pairs of socks and about 50 pairs of underwear in elementary-friendly sizes. School supplies collected during VBS were added to the church’s collection of uniforms to bless their adopted school and get students off to a strong start. By sponsoring this school year-round, Sunset UMC volunteers of all ages have the opportunity to show Christ’s love to the students and teachers in many ways. Young adults provide treats for teachers each month, and adult volunteers help on campus throughout the school year.