First Christian Church in Jefferson City, Missouri has had a relationship with nearby East Elementary School for almost 20 years. What began as a mentoring program has grown in recent years. As an official business partner with the school, FCC provides ice cream for field days, hands out t-shirts at parent-teacher conferences, and hosts a teacher appreciation dinner.
This ongoing ministry at East School is funded by an endowment fund that was set up in 1998 thanks to a generous bequest from a church member’s estate. Every year, 50% of the income from this endowment goes directly to support Community Ministries. This separate designated fund is used exclusively for programs and projects that support the local community around First Christian Church and includes volunteers from the congregation.
This year the congregation decided to use the Community Ministry funds that had built up to expand the partnership at East Elementary in new ways. By focusing the resources in one community, they hope to have a greater impact through depth instead of breadth. After meeting with the leadership at East School, FCC took on two new projects – a block party to help build relationships and support the community around East and an attendance incentive program.
The block party was held at East School on Friday, September 9 and was attended by several hundred members of the community. With the help of local businesses, FCC provided hot dogs, sides, and ice cream. A variety of community organizations, such as YMCA, Upward Basketball, Healthy Schools/ Healthy Communities, and Central Missouri Community Action participated by setting up information tables. Volunteers provided a safe place for the kids to play with bubbles and chalk, get their face painted, and a clown made balloon animals. Cinch-bags with the church information were handed out to everyone who came, with students receiving ones filled with school supplies.
Over 60 church members participated in the block party which was also supported by volunteers from Second Christian Church in Jefferson City. Besides helping build relationships with the nearby community, the event has also brought about opportunities for these two churches to work together to support their shared neighbors.
In the coming months, FCC will be implementing the other new program to help improve attendance at East School. Community ministry funds and volunteers will provide monthly incentives for students with perfect attendance and support for families with chronic attendance issues.
FCC Associate Minister Sarah Kingsbery is pictured here with Superintendent of Jefferson City Schools Larry Linthacum. The recent block party was also covered by a local newspaper.
Story and photos courtesy of Sarah Kingsbery.