United Methodist Children’s Centers: We Love All God’s Children!
By: Sherri Gragg
The Texas Annual Conference continues to move forward in the formation of United Methodist Children’s Centers as part of the We Love All God’s Children initiative.
As the Texas Annual Conference moves forward to bring We Love All God’s Children into the hearts of hurting communities, the new centers for ministry are getting a new name that captures clearly and simply the mission of the centers-
“United Methodist Children’s Centers: We Love All God’s Children!”
“We want the community to know why we are there and what we are offering,” said Director of Congregational Excellence, the Rev. Robert Besser. “We want them to know that we come with open hands and no agenda other than to share the love of Christ with all children in fulfillment of our rich United Methodist history of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. Our new name captures that mission.”
A Legacy of Christian Service
Behind the simple name and mission lies a complex philosophy of why the church must lead in taking concrete steps for the healing of society’s deepest wounds: Christian Social Innovation. The philosophy was first conceptualized by Bishop Scott Jones brother, Professor L. Gregory Jones. Jones, the dean of Duke Divinity School, believes that society, including the church, longs for “innovation”- new ways of meeting the most difficult challenges we face.
“We are hungry for innovation because we know that we are facing challenges that are “complex,” problems that are “wicked”… We have a looming sense that too much of our world is in a state of degeneration, that older institutions and patterns of life are decaying and dying. We have a sense that we need something new.” Christian Social Innovation: Renewing Wesleyan Witness, L. Gregory Jones, Abingdon Press, 2016.
Historically, Christians have been agents of powerful social change in society forming institutions such as The Red Cross and World Vision to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. With the We Love All God’s Children initiative, the Texas Annual Conference is taking an intentional step to embrace this legacy of “Christian Innovation.”
First Center Planned
The United Methodist Children’s Centers will take the love of Christ into the neediest communities, offering a loving island of hope in a troubled landscape often marred by food and healthcare deserts, an absence of quality childcare, and falling literacy and graduation rates. The centers will partner with local agencies already doing great work by sharing with them some of our most valuable and ready resources- space to serve.
The Texas Annual Conference hopes to open the first of the United Methodist Children’s Centers in the former home of Bethel United Methodist Church. This pilot program will be the first of many. “As we go forward, we want to partner with local churches throughout the Conference,” said Besser. “We are inviting churches to apply to serve as one of these centers. Our hope is that throughout the Conference, the United Methodist Church will be seen as not only a place of worship, but as a center of outreach to children.”
Churches interested in applying to partner in the We Love All God’s Children initiative by hosting one of these centers may apply online at txcumc.org/csiapp.
Simply interested in learning more? Contact We Love All God’s Children Director, the Rev. Jill Daniel at (713) 521-9383 ext. 314 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.