Mighty Methodists: Lexington UMC Children’s Outreach is 20 Years Strong
By: Sherri Gragg
In an unusual partnership between Lexington UMC and the Lexington Independent School district, school buses filled with shouting and giggling children roll up to the church each Wednesday evening for the “Mighty Methodists” program.
This year, the program has experienced its highest enrollment in its 20-year-history as dedicated volunteers welcome 97 students, grades K-12, to the church each week for an evening of food, faith, and fun.
The model for Mighty Methodists is simple but meaningful for the children in their care:
Begin the evening with a meal. Once the children’s physical needs have been met, feed their souls with a kid-friendly chapel service. Finally, provide a safe, nurturing environment where children can play and participate in arts and crafts until their parents finish work.
“Some of these kids are from food-unstable homes,” Lexington UMC's pastor the Rev. Raegan Seaton said, adding: “We know this meal will be their dinner for Wednesday night. We take that very seriously.”
Small Town Cooperation
Seaton describes Lexington, Texas as a close-knit community in which children are a priority. This small-town commitment to Lexington’s children is the foundation of the Mighty Methodist program. The Lexington Independent School District provides weekly transportation from the school to the church. Lexington UMC provides the funding, facility, and volunteer labor to ensure the children in their care have a nurturing program that meets their physical and spiritual needs during hours they would normally stay home alone while they wait for their parents to finish work.
The Mighty Methodists program is always 100 percent free to parents. “For some parents, it is an assurance their kids are in a great place,” Seaton said. “For others, it is a chance to invest in their kids’ spiritual life outside of a Sunday morning setting.”
Lexington UMC’s investment in local school children extends far beyond Mighty Methodists. The church has worked diligently to develop a strong working relationship with their local schools. In addition to Mighty Methodists, Lexington UMC fills backpacks with non-perishable food items for food-insecure children to take home with them over the long weekends when free and reduced-cost school lunches are unavailable to them. The church also provides volunteers for the local elementary school to assist children with reading and math. “We have a really good connection with our elementary school,” Seaton said, “Great relationships are everything in these kinds of ministries.”
As Lexington UMC has served children faithfully for the past 20 years, the community has grown to know and trust them, opening the door for the church to introduce Mighty Methodist kids to the love of Christ and what Seaton calls “the rhythms of the church.” Recently, on Ash Wednesday, the church held a special service for the children, offering them ashes and communion, along with a lesson reflecting the deep spiritual lessons behind the practices.
Seaton makes it a priority for parents to know the gifts the church offers their children come with no strings attached.
“We feed them physically and spiritually,” said Seaton, “That is the most important thing- to take care of the kids. If their parents want to join us for worship, that is great. If they would rather go somewhere else, that is great too.”