Southeastern Jurisdiction stories of ministry with children in poverty: July 2015

July 30, 2015

In January 2015 the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops and Annual Conference Lay Leaders met together in Charleston. A big part of their dialogue was advocacy for children in poverty. The agreed to make this a common focus of ministry across the Southeastern Jurisdiction. In follow up conversations, a plan developed to start an e-newsletter to regularly share stories of this common ministry focus. Below is the newsletter for July 2015.

If your congregation has a story of ministry with children in poverty, please send that story to North Alabama Conference Lay Leader Steve Lyles at



In January 2015 the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops and Annual Conference Lay Leaders committed to make children in poverty a common ministry focus across the Southeast. This newsletter is a way to routinely share stories of this common ministry focus.

In this Issue:


from the

Holston Conference


Oakland UMC’s Cinderella’s Closet reaches out to high school students

This spring, WATE 6 On Your Side in Knoxville shared a story about Oakland UMC’s Cinderella’s Closet ministry. It is a way this small congregation helps high school girls get ready for prom.

Church member Janet Keller explained to WATE, “What we do is give away prom dresses and accessories and shoes to young ladies that are wanting to go to the prom and for different reasons cannot afford to go or they can’t find a dress somewhere else.”

The church collected more than 90 prom dresses, both gently used and new. When students came to choose an outfit, they were also registered for a gift card and received a small gift bag filled with cosmetic samples.  Members of the church also took time to pray with each young lady.

The ministry started in 2014 and grew larger this year. 

WATE interviewed one of this year’s volunteers. R.J. Farley is a mother whose daughter benefited from Cinderella’s Closet last year. She shared with the news reporter what a special experience it had been noting, “And I met these nice people and I just knew I had to become involved.”

Click here to view the WATE story and slideshow.



from the

North Alabama Conference


Goodsell UMC tutoring ministry helps move community toward its priorities

In a recent blog, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett shared about a ministry of Goodsell UMC in the Southeast District. She writes:

The Summer Math and Reading Lab had an average
of 67 students and 30 volunteers present daily.
Charter Bank officials presented Dr. Randy B. Kelley
with a generous donation for the summer program.

The church recently started an after school tutoring ministry which serves 26 students in third grade through college twice a week during the school year.  In addition, their summer tutorial "Math and Reading Lab" averages 67 children and 30 volunteers Monday-Friday. 

This church, which has a worship attendance of 83 on Sunday mornings, does not specify its ministry for a particular income bracket. However the families of many of the students participating in the tutoring are financially challenged.  Thus, the Goodsell United Methodist Church is in significant capacity-building ministry with the poor.

How did this kind of fruitful ministry develop?  Three years ago Dr. Randy Kelley and Goodsell United Methodist Church leadership invited civic leaders into conversation about how the church could help address community needs.  Upon learning that literacy and education were top priorities in their community, they undertook a tutoring ministry. 

According to Dr. Kelley, in addition to making a huge difference in the lives of children and youth, this program is also bringing renewal and vitality to the church.


from the

Western North Carolina Conference


North Carolina churches provide bedding kits for students

Last year First United Methodist Church in Hickory, North Carolina, contacted the local school district social workers and asked what particular need was not being met.  The response was “beds so that children can get a good night’s sleep.”  First Church responded and then shared the vision with its missional network.  

The “difficult situation” is there are hundreds of children throughout the area that either live in substandard housing (sleeping on the floor or in one bed with multiple children), or are functionally homeless moving from house to house — sleeping on the couch of an aunt this week, the floor of a cousin next week. The children cannot get a good night’s sleep and are coming to school tired, sick, etc.

The bedding kit is both is sturdy and portable.The
price tag for each kit is under $100

During Advent, the missional network churches raised enough funds for more than 225 bedding kits and have committed to making this an annual event.  The bedding kit consists of a backpacking cot (can support 200 lbs), a fleece blanket, a mattress/cover, a pillow, and tote bag. The price tag for each kit is under $100. The bedding system is sturdy, but lightweight. It can be easily and quickly folded up for immediate mobility.  

This spring, the churches came together at Highland UMC in Hickory and celebrated with a “Build-a-Bed” workshop rally during which the network churches compiled all the components of the bedding kits to be delivered to the area school districts (Hickory City Schools, Catawba County Schools, and Conover Schools). 



Annual Conferences of the
Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church

• Alabama/West Florida • Florida • Holston • Kentucky • Memphis •
• Mississippi • North Alabama • North Carolina • North Georgia • Red Bird Missionary •
• South Carolina • South Georgia • Tennessee • Virginia • Western North Carolina •

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