New Ministry Community Supports Foster Care and Adoptive Families
Servants of Christ UMC is launching a second-Sunday service on September 13 that will feature liturgy, dinner, discussions and celebrations unique to foster care and adoptive families.
“As a foster parent in a nice, typical United Methodist Church, I didn't exactly feel like my story fit into the stories of the families around me,” shares Rev. LyAnna Johnson, Servants of Christ UMC. “Whereas my friends could baptize their children, there wasn't a formal way to recognize my family's addition. And when the baby left, no one dropped off a casserole. There wasn't a funeral, but I felt this profound loss that mostly went unacknowledged.” Adds LyAnna, “This wasn't because my church was full of uncaring people. It was because they didn't know what to do and I didn't know what to ask for.”
As LyAnna and other foster parents have exchanged stories and experiences over the years, they have tapped into a new ministry opportunity that will help facilitate a sense of community among others tackling the challenges of providing a short-term family for youngsters, or even a forever family for an adopted child.
Mary Landry serves on the lead team that is launching a new worship service providing a unique environment for foster and adoptive parents and children, beginning September 13. “We will be a community as much as a congregation,” she explains, “beginning with a shared family meal.” Adds Mary, “Children will be included in all aspects of our celebrations.”
The evening intentionally starts with dinner. Notes LyAnna, “This fills tummies, but it also provides our families the time and space to get to know one another and share stories. We will also highlight different resources each month that might be helpful to different members of our community.”
LyAnna shares, “Our goals are to create a space for foster and adoptive families to celebrate being a family, even when it's crazy and complicated and broken and not forever." This new worship service includes liturgy and celebrations that are unique to this community. For example, there will be a "Comings and Goings" celebration at each service “to welcome new members of our families and celebrate those that have left or are going to leave.” She adds, “Some of the unique considerations are that we can't baptize foster children, and when foster children leave a family, it often causes profound grief for a time, which many cannot relate to. So, we are creating a space to celebrate these deep and powerful emotions within a community that understands what that feels like.”
Everyone is invited to join on the second Sunday of each month. Organizers hope that this will be a way to introduce more people to the foster and adoption community, which will hopefully lead to more safe and loving foster and adoptive homes. Adds LyAnna, “Success looks like families worshiping together and knowing that they are surrounded by a community that is not only there to support them, but includes families that have walked similar paths.”
This unique ministry is likely to be a first and more successful if participants spread the word. “We are pioneers with this ministry idea, as far as we know,” adds LyAnna.