Morningstar UMC in Chelsea (South Central District) recently hosted its fourth annual “Sip & Sob” event on the first day of school at the local elementary schools.
Almost five years ago, one of the servant leaders of the congregation, who just happened to have a child nearing the age of starting kindergarten, spoke with Senior Pastor Mark Puckett, about doing something special to support the parents of the incoming kindergartners. The two sought to explore a strategy that addressed this need. The result was the concept of the “Sip & Sob” outreach event.
With the permission of the principals from the local elementary schools, “invitations” of individual tissue packs with a printed invite card were given to all of the parents on “Meet the Teacher” night the week before school began. Then on the first day of school, servant leaders from the congregation established a “Welcome Center” in the school cafeteria, complete with gourmet coffee, muffins, danishes, fresh fruit, and cases of tissue packs. They also offered parents a half page printed prayer for the day. This year’s prayer was…
Dear God, thank You for this treasured child of mine. Although You have entrusted him/her to me, I know that he/she belongs to You. Like a mother named Hannah offered Samuel, I dedicate my child to You, Lord. I recognize that he/she is always in Your care.
Today is a day that marks the official beginning of his/her educational journey. I celebrate it, but I also find myself emotional about this change. Help me as a parent, Lord, with my weaknesses and many imperfections. Give me strength and godly wisdom to raise this child after Your Holy Word. Please supply what I lack. Keep my child safe and walking on the path that leads to a purpose filled and eternal life. Help him/her to overcome the temptations in this world that would so easily entangle him/her.
Dear God, please send Your Holy Spirit to daily lead and guide him/her. Ever assist him/her to grow in wisdom and stature, in grace and knowledge, in kindness, in compassion, and in love. May he/she serve You faithfully with his/her whole heart devoted to You.
Please help me never to hold on too tightly to this child, nor neglect my responsibilities before You as a parent. Lord, let my commitment to raise this child for the glory of Your name cause his/her life to forever testify of Your faithfulness.
I pray this in Your holy name. Amen!
On the back of the prayer card there was another invitation to visit Morningstar UMC for a new message series that kicked off the following weekend in the church’s Sunday Worship Experiences.
During the Sip and Sob events, parents have the opportunity to speak with each other and share their “first day of school” experiences. It is a time of community that is built around a common factor – “life has offered their child a new beginning.” Through this ministry the Morningstar congregation tries to convey to parents they wish to embrace this new beginning with them.
As a bonus, this year one of the congregation’s small groups also purchased three reams of paper for each kindergarten teacher.
Rev. Puckett explains, “This is a simple, yet very effective, outreach event. This year’s effort served the families of approximately 320 students (a total of 14 kindergarten classes) for about $350.”
If you have any questions about this particular event, please feel free to contact Pastor Mark Puckett via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.