Bethany: New Ministry, New Life
By: Sherri Gragg
New life comes to Bethany UMC through We Love All God’s Children.
New Mission, New Name
The new year has big things in store for under resourced children throughout the Texas Annual Conference as the We Love All God’s Children Initiative takes bold new steps into the future beginning with a new name. Former Bethany UMC is now “We Love All God’s Children: A United Methodist Children’s Center.”
Throughout the last weeks of 2018, the campus underwent renovations to prepare for its new season of ministry. “We have worked diligently to clear out 12,000 square feet of office space,” said We Love All God’s Children Director, the Rev. Jill Daniel. The Conference is currently repurposing office supplies and furniture, a library, and choir room supplies to local congregations, especially those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. All of the surplus items have been staged in the gym where churches may come “shop” for free. Excess childcare equipment will benefit new day schools the Conference will open in under resourced areas. (Link to photos of free stuff here with a cutline that says, “Free items include filing cabinets, desks and office furniture, baby items for pre-schools and sheet music.”)
The former Bethany UMC library will now serve as a meeting room, complete with the technology for Zoom meetings. The former Bethany choir room will serve as a training room.
The Central South District offices will join the We Love All God’s Children staff on the Bethany campus. Additionally, the center will house a representative of Houston Methodist Hospital, who will work with the We Love All God’s Children programs.
A local youth Christian organization will partner with We Love All God’s Children to provide a mentoring program for nearby Longfellow Elementary School. Seventy percent of the students at Longfellow Elementary School, a fine arts school, receive free and reduced lunches. The school asserts that their number one need is student social and emotional support. Their second greatest need is literacy support. In congruence with the goals of We Love All God’s Children to promote health, literacy, and discipleship, the organization will utilize the Bethany campus to meet those needs.
Summer Fun and Learning at Bethany
We Love All God’s Children is excited to host a new HYPE Freedom School on the Bethany campus for six weeks during the summer of 2019. The Conference is seeking six area churches to each serve as volunteer support for Freedom School for one week each. Churches interested in participating in this program should contact Daniel at .
Children’s Learning Institute
We Love All God’s Children is partnering with the University of Texas Children’s Learning Institute to provide quality training for area day school workers. The center is expanding the ministry of Bethany’s existing day school through a partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Collaborative for Children. Through the joint efforts of the three organizations, the Bethany day school will begin offering childcare subsidies which, according to Daniel, will allow “underserved children the ability to come to Bethany Weekday school and engage in excellent early childhood education. The quality childcare will further benefit families as it enables them to enter workforce by providing excellence in childcare.” During fall enrollment, Bethany Day School will reserve 25 percent of enrollments for underserved children. “We will partner with the University of Texas Children’s Learning Institute to offer these children the gold standard of early childhood curriculum by the National Association for the Education of Young Children,” said Daniel.