Five Stars of Excellence in Christian Education Program Honors 2011 Winners

Date Posted: 8/10/2011

The Five Stars of Excellence in Christian Education has been an ongoing program for more than10 years. The goals of the program are to assist local congregations in inviting and growing disciples of Christ; encourage, promote, strengthen, and facilitate the growth of Christian Education programs, especially the Sunday Schools, of our churches and connect Christian Education to the overall ministry of the local church and the connectional church.


The Shooting Star award is an award that may only be received every two years, and churches must have received the “Five Stars of Excellence” award the previous year and also qualify to receive that award in the current year. The seven award-winning programs or

events that earned the Texas Annual Conference 2011 Shooting Star Award from the conference’s Christian Educators Fellowship are described below.


First UMC, Brookshire

Children’s Church

The goal of this ministry is to offer elementary school-age children education about worship and the experience of a worship service for their level of understanding. Church members converted a room into a mini-sanctuary, and adult and older youth volunteers were trained as leaders. At a modest cost, the curriculum was adapted from Young Children and Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman along with a Betty Lukens felt board system.


As a result of this program, children are developing a greater understanding of the order of worship while learning and leading in worship at Children’s Church. For more information, contact Susan Lyle or Rev. Dottie Dumas at 281-375-5683


First UMC, Humble

Church-wide Advent Study

During the Advent season, the church offered a churchwide study, Christmas Gifts that Won’t Break, based on the DVD and workbook of the same name. Sunday School teachers were trained as facilitators for their classes, and adults, youth, and children participated in the study during the Sunday School hour each week. Lessons for the different age groups provided time for extended reflection through prayers, journaling, and weekly challenges. The senior minister’s sermon series also was based on the study’s themes. A total of 210 members participated in the series, which is expected to impact the future vision of the congregation. For more information, contact Sharon Taylor at or 281-446-2332.


First UMC, Katy

Snow Day on Moose Mountain

The goal of this program was to offer a day of fun, food, and fellowship — after Christmas and before school resumed — for families fromthe community, recent visitors, and church families with children. The one-day event launched a six-week series on Wednesday nights, and 65 of the 70 children who attended Snow Day signed up for the Wednesday program. Each evening included a meal, Bible study and activity centers, and time for sharing, singing, and prayer. The program was so popular that plans were made to continue the Wednesday night programming. Participants were invited to all summer and future church events. This ministry has brought new life and excitement to the church. For information, contact Pam Cline at or 281-391-2121.


First UMC, Trinity

Grief and Alzheimer’s Support Groups

The Grief Support Group at Trinity has been an effective ministry of the church for many years. Led by a professional therapist, the support group meets weekly in a church office and is open to the entire community. Through this group, the need was recognized for a support system specifically for families and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. The church now sponsors the Alzheimer’s Support Group twice a month, offering information about dementia, along with tools and support for the caregiver’s role. For more information, contact Lue Wenzel at or call the church at 936-594-3826.


John Wesley UMC, Houston

Missions Possible

The Missions Possible Sunday School class was formed with a goal of nurturing the love of serving others by connecting the educational component of Sunday School with hands-on service. Opportunities for hands-on service are offered monthly during the class time or on

Saturdays, and the class provides support for the projects through their offering. Time for evaluation and reflection follows each project. On Sundays when the class is not in hands-on service, they rotate among videos, book studies, and guest speakers from organizations serving the needs of the community. Missions Possible is attracting visitors as well as

other new members, and it is impacting the way the church moves forward in mission. For more information, contact Sue Highfield at or 281-379-4302.


Memorial Drive UMC, Houston

A/Way – Into the Rhythm of Life Retreat

A church-wide spring retreat was held at Trinity Pines Retreat Center, and the participants ranged in age from eight months to more than 80 years. The goals of the event were to allow participants to experience time away in a natural setting; enjoy intergenerational fellowship, play, and worship; and acquire tools to help establish a rhythm for living that honors God and renews and nourishes the soul. With the whole assembly and in various age groupings, the scripturally based theme was explored in ways that were new to the participants, culminating with covenants for living in a rhythm of life that acknowledges God’s presence. For more information, contact Sheri Kelley at or 713-468- 8356.


Terrace UMC, Houston

Life Skills Retreats for Women

The Outreach Ministry Team organizes a free Life Skills Retreat three Saturdays per year for female clients of Santa Maria Hostel, Turning Point Center, and Garden Place Apartments. The women are in various stages of crisis: residential drug treatment, homelessness, or transitional housing. The retreats include worship, lunch, and workshops on topics such as health, finance, self-esteem, job skills, parenting, living in sobriety, spirituality, and dealing with loss. The workshop leaders volunteer their expertise, and church members host as greeters, lunch servers, and transportation providers. The program is having a significant impact on the participants and the community. For more information, contact Kathy Gilbert at or 713-686-4328.


Churches with Outstanding Christian Education Programs

In addition to honoring seven churches as “Shooting Stars” for their exemplary programs or events, an additional 14 churches also were recognized as achieving the specified criteria within five categories critical to an outstanding, ongoing Christian Education program.

“It is especially gratifying to note that the size of these churches is not an indicator of the innovation or quality of their ministries,” said Ellen Edwards, Christian Education Director of St. Paul’s UMC, who chaired the awards program this year. “Church membership among the Shooting Stars ranged from 200 to thousands.” The five categories considered critical for an outstanding, ongoing Christian Education program in order to earn the Five Stars of Excellence recognition are:

• Adopting mission statements and goals for Christian Education that reflect a connection to the mission of the local congregation

• Involving clergy in Christian Education

• Calling, equipping, and affirming leaders

• Caring, inviting, and reaching out

• Providing resources and support for all persons involved in Christian Education


The churches meeting the Five Stars of Excellence criteria for the 2010-11 year were

Chapelwood UMC, Houston; Chapelwood UMC, Lake Jackson; Cypress UMC, Cypress; First UMC, Groves; First UMC, Houston; First UMC, Jacksonville; Holy Covenant UMC, Katy; Klein UMC, Spring; Mission Bend UMC, Houston; Pollard UMC, Tyler; Rose Hill UMC, Tomball; St. Paul’s UMC, Houston; St. Peter’s UMC, Katy and Wesley UMC, Beaumont.


All churches in the Texas Annual Conference are invited to participate in this program every year. “The Five Star Award is an excellent tool for evaluating effectiveness, developing strategies for growth, and celebrating and promoting strengths in the educational ministries of your congregation,” concluded Edwards.


The program runs from April 15 to April 15, and the entire packet is available online at  and within Congregational Excellence at