Grassroots group to launch UMC campaign to ensure "A Strong Family for Every Child" at Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute
This September, a small grassroots group within the UMC is launching a campaign to promote ministry with orphaned children and vulnerable youth among United Methodists. This campaign (1) promotes family care models as the right response for orphaned children; including safe, permanent families of all shapes and sizes, and (2) provides guidance for people who want to engage in ministry with orphaned children and vulnerable youth. We want to ensure “A Strong Family for Every Child.”
The Strong Family for Every Child campaign will launch at the Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute (9/28-30) with a special session called “Breaking Bread from House to House” on September 29th at 4:30pm. A “table fellowship” event, Breaking Bread will provide an opportunity for church leaders, clergy and laypeople alike, to engage in a deep and meaningful conversation about how the Bible is calling us to care for orphans, and more importantly - how we can best respond to that call.
For years, we’ve been hearing about the global orphan crisis. We know that approximately 140 million children in the world are classified as orphans; meaning a child whose parent has died. Of those, more than 5 million live in an orphanage. COVID has added an additional 10 million children to the overall number, and the number of children who have lost one or more caregivers due to the pandemic continues to grow.
There have always been orphans. And for centuries, Christians have stepped up to answer the call to care for these children because of the Biblical mandate to care for orphans and widows. Most often, this has taken the form of building orphanages to house them. “A Strong Family for Every Child” advocates for a different solution; one that will increase the number of orphans and vulnerable children who can be reached, dramatically improve outcomes for these children, and inspire congregations to engage in the real work of the church. In a season marked by divisiveness, the planning committee of this campaign believes that by embracing this mission, we can focus our attention on what God is calling each of us to do to care for the most vulnerable of His children.
Reverend Wayne Lavender, a United Methodist pastor and Executive Director for Foundation 4 Orphans, sees caring for orphans and vulnerable youth as the way forward for our denomination (s) during this time of ongoing and delayed schism. “Embracing orphans and vulnerable children will give the people called Methodist something to be excited about, give us a unified missional focus, and allow us to return to our evangelical roots with a central, clear message. In addition, given the growing research and knowledge gained from best practices, we can now scale our work and reach more children in need. We have the ability and means in which to severely mitigate the orphan pandemic / family separation crisis of our day and help create a world of peace and justice for all,” writes Lavender. “John Wesley wrote to George Whitefield that “caring for orphans is the highest form of charity on the earth.” Lavender’s research indicates that less than three percent of United Methodist Churches are currently engaged in missions focused on orphans and vulnerable children.
This special session is open to all persons—for those currently engaged in orphan and vulnerable youth, and for individuals interested in bringing this ministry to their church.
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