This past Sunday I preached in a church that was brimming over with children. I was introduced to a family whose six-week-old child was in attendance for the first time. I sat at a table with a lively six month old whose grandmother graciously let me hold him for a few minutes. I knelt on the floor and talked with a little girl who was building a train. I enjoyed seeing several other children sitting with parents or grandparents. Each child with whom I interacted at this church was beautiful, unique and fun-loving. These children are blessed with people in their lives who love them dearly and are committed to introducing them to Christ.
Though our North Alabama Conference churches include many children in similar situations, other children in our churches, state and world find themselves in very different conditions. Some are in circumstances where they have insufficient access to food and education. Others only hear Jesus’ name when a parent or friend is swearing. Still other children do not live in safe emotional and/or physical environments.
Backgrounds and circumstances vary, but all children have one commonality. They are loved deeply by Jesus Christ, the One who reminds his disciples in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
A helpful resource to assist us in living out the Matthew 19:14 instructions is our Pan Methodist Children in Poverty team, chaired by Rev. Melissa Patrick. This group is hard at work to improve the lives of all children and youth, especially those in difficult economic situations.* The team’s mission statement is “to affirm the Wesleyan heritage to care for the poor by encouraging “the people called Methodist” to serve children and youth at risk to poverty.”
Some of the team’s strategies for moving us toward this mission include:
- Pray for children and youth in our churches and communities.
- Ask for God’s leadership in our efforts to serve children and youth.
- Stay informed about the circumstances of children and youth in our communities and state.
- Offer a Children’s Sabbath worship service annually.
- Contribute to the Campaign for Children in Poverty.
I encourage all North Alabama Conference local churches to consider implementing several of the above suggestions. See the attached flier for more information about the living situations of children in Alabama or to plan a Children’s Sabbath worship service. Serving children and youth surely honors the Savior we serve.
Thank you for your love and commitment to children. As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference
*The Pan Methodist Commission consists of six denominations within the tradition of Wesleyan Methodism: The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church, The African Union Methodist Protestant Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the union American Methodist Episcopal Church and the
United Methodist Church. Visit www.panmethodistcampaignforchildren.org