“We Love All God’s Children” is based on a vision -- that the Texas Annual Conference will be known for serving the under-resourced children who are all too often forgotten in our community. The initiative is based on three pillars: discipleship, literacy and health. By empowering local churches in each area, the TAC seeks to change the trajectory of the lives of underserved children and their families.
The strategy centers on the creation of United Methodist Children’s Centers, which include a full-day preschool, a community health coordinator and community partners. Through the Centers, churches become a mission outpost in the community for early childhood education, discipleship and health services. Congregations provide a solid foundation for lifelong learning and faith, helping the youngest minds grow and develop in a nurturing, Christ-centered environment.
" Jesus said, 'let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" -Matthew 19:14
Discipleship begins in early childhood where learning about God and faith are paramount. We Love All God’s Children builds after-school Bible lessons and off-site Vacation Bible Schools. The team is also in the planning stages of organizing summer literacy camps for elementary students with an emphasis on spiritual learning. Through spiritual learning at a young age, children can personally grow in the love of Christ.
Creating a lifelong love of learning starts with building a foundation in literacy. Research shows that students unable to read proficiently by third grade are eighty-eight percent more likely to drop out of high school. That number only increases when those children live in poverty. Statistics also tell us that the school-to-prison pipeline results when children are pushed out of the classroom instead of being allowed to catch-up with their classmates.
United Methodist Children’s Centers can flip the script, starting at the beginning, by fostering the ability to read and write. Literacy is fundamental to all aspects of learning. The program’s vision is that all students of the TAC will be kindergarten ready and able to read at the third grade level. Churches in the TAC often sit empty throughout the week. Instead of allowing their classrooms and meeting areas to go unused, We Love All God’s Children transforms the campus into a preschool, offered at reduced tuition and with scholarships.
With the initiative, after school mentoring programs are developed and churches prepared to host literacy programs throughout the week, as well as annual back-to-school backpack drives. Partnerships are built between churches and neighboring elementary schools. Volunteers in the congregation are also able to join the effort, changing the future of each child by offering them individual attention, tutoring and mentoring.
Health is vital to support discipleship and early childhood education. We Love All God’s Children built wellness into its core, from developing free health screenings and exercise programs for children to creating food pantries for families and serving meals during holidays and summer break. Another priority is helping parents gain the resources to guide their families to better health and navigate social service agencies. Nutrition, medical care, dental treatment and vision are included in the program.
One in four children in Texas goes to bed hungry, according to a study from Feeding America. Food deserts are present in most of our backyards, and the most basic health needs go unmet for underserved children. In addition, mental and emotional health is also crucial for children, especially those facing trauma related to COVID-19.
Through We Love All God’s Children, local churches can meet some of the most critical needs for at-risk children, from providing immunizations to demonstrating the benefits of healthy meals.
Let’s get started
We Love All God’s Children starts with enlisting the support of church members who want to serve children. Churches can then create their own unique, innovative and holistic programs with guidance provided by the We Love All God’s Children initiative.
The need is urgent. Your congregation can be part of changing the trajectory of underserved children and their families.
Contact Rev. Jill Daniel firstname.lastname@example.org to start making a positive impact in young lives in your community.