Even in the midst of a pandemic, children’s ministry remained vibrant. Living the Word for preschoolers with puppets and games, God Alive in the mountains each week, the summer God Alive Garden of tomatoes and cucumbers, and an end-of-summer kayak trip on Carvin’s Cove are just a few highlights. This fall Sunday school begins again, God Alive returns to the building, and we seek to provide a safe and loving nursery for children each Sunday.
From 2013-2019, the God Alive children have attended a retreat at Camp Bethel, with the number of participants growing each year, and thus the cost of the trip. In the past the God Alive families have paid $20 per child to attend this retreat to help offset the overall cost. The cost is roughly $400 for the church. We have used restricted funds each year. These funds come from gifts to the Christian Ed ministry. Your generosity in Spirit and financial giving have enabled us to pursue God’s leading for our children’s ministry here at RCPC. With just $400 more we could make sure there is a line item for our Camp Bethel Retreat, so that each year, for years to come our young people can join together in this beautiful place to know God’s presence in nature and to imagine and create new adventures together.
In July of 2021, we had our Vacation Bible School at Fishburn Park and just invited our church members, in order to follow COVID precautions and keep our children safe. In years past, the whole community of the preschool, church, and our greater community are invited to our Vacation Bible School. In 2019, we had 75 children participate in our VBS, with over half of these children being students from our preschool. VBS is a wonderful outreach ministry to families of our community and it is at no cost to them. Our goal is to have 100 kids attend and 100 kids learn that Jesus loves everyone, everywhere!
Your generosity has enabled us to have a vibrant summer VBS for the past several decades. Our budget for VBS is $800. This is essentially $8 per kids for food each day, supplies, scenery, and curriculum needs. As we grow this ministry in numbers of participants we also wish to grow in the amount budgeted. Our goal is to have $1,000 for VBS ministry.
With your generosity this past year, our youth program was able to experience a stay-at-home summer that grew deeper connections to our hometown and members of our youth group as we served as the hands and feet of Christ right here in Roanoke. The success of this “Covid summer” made us realize we want to build on our summer mission trip by staying local and thus building connections in Roanoke with mission partners and others in our congregation.
With your continued generosity, we’re looking forward to restarting attending several conferences. Our middle schoolers will head to Massanetta Springs in June, our high schoolers and college students will return to Montreat. We’re also hopeful to spend more time this year with our confirmands kicking off confirmation with a campout and honoring them at the end with a Bible embossed with their name. As we look towards the year ahead, we also hope to expand our young adult ministries through a once-a-month lunch opportunity and ultimately a young adult retreat. Ideally, we’ll cover appetizers, childcare, and the lodging for such a retreat. This young adult ministry aims to create a connection place for these congregants providing them another place to have meaningful encounters with one another and with God. Participants in all of the programs pay some of the cost, some is raised in fundraisers, but an annual contribution in the general budget to each of these ministries makes it feasible for us to take the people on these faith-forming experiences at a reasonable cost to families and shows the broad support of the shaping of adolescent hearts from the entire congregation.
Over this year we have continued five adult small groups, special online education offerings, and provided devotional resources for Lent and Advent. This fall three adult education classes are beginning plus a Discover RCPC class for those new to our congregation. We hope to be able to return to Massanetta Springs for a congregational retreat in the spring as well.
During the year 2020, when we could not meet face to face for Christian Education, we began a ministry for adults called Screen to Screen. This ministry brings leaders of our faith into our homes through the online platform of Zoom. Last year we invited Frances Taylor Gench, New Testament scholar from Union Presbyterian Seminary, to join us for a lecture and conversation entitled “When the Bible Raises your Blood Pressure.” To show our gratitude to Frances for her time with us, we paid her a $100 stipend. We have three presenters lined up for 2021 and wish to continue and grow this adult CE ministry on into 2022.
Your generosity helps us to provide curriculum for Sunday School and devotionals for Lent. We made use of Zoom throughout the pandemic, and Andrew continues to host a lunchtime Bible study on Zoom each week. This is a monthly expense of $15 plus an annual fee of just over $200 to allow us access to this technology. With $300 more, we can create a line item for our Screen to Screen presenters, continue our use of online learning opportunities, and grow this ministry which provides an opportunity for us to hear from many voices within our community and beyond.