By Melinda Shunk
Children's Ministry Coordinator
Children’s ministry can sometimes be thought of as a ministry ONLY for those parents raising young children to serve. It is a great misconception and one that leaves out so much love and experience that intergenerational volunteers who are done raising young children can offer to our children. A group of multi-generational volunteers is able to give time and experience to a children’s ministry that should never be doubted or denied.
Brenda Wright taught in public school in Louisiana for 28 years and retired to Monticello, Arkansas in the Southeast District. She volunteered in children’s ministry for five years at First UMC of Monticello, until most recently her senior pastor, the Rev. Hammett Evans, asked her to join the staff. She accepted the offer as a part-time children’s minister as calling from God.
Although Brenda just recently joined the church staff, she has been working over the last five years with a great intergenerational group of volunteers who make the mission-minded ministry of FUMC Monticello shine each Sunday morning and Wednesday night.
Each volunteer brings a special gift to the children outside of a normal lesson. One may have a gift of conducting a children’s choir, while another leads hand-bells, and still another with bilingual abilities to reach all of the kiddos. Parents who have children in the program bring their expertise to the classroom with creative hands-on activities.
When asked how she gets such a wide generational range in her volunteer teaching staff, Wright quickly responds that we all want the same thing for the children. We want the children of Monticello to know the love of Christ. We want them to have learning experiences that last their lifetime. We want them to have the church family that we all experienced growing up. The church family that we have with each other right now.
“We are all close. We even have our adult small groups as multi-generational as our volunteer teachers. It is what we do here at FUMC Monticello because we all have something to offer. The only time we know or show our age is when our bodies stop us from doing what our hearts want us to be doing,” Wright said.
Brenda’s relationships grow stronger each year with her Children’s Ministry volunteers as they have twice-a-year planning meetings where everyone has a say and carries out their classroom duties.
Brenda was unable to attend this year’s conference event called Quest due to her need to be at another church commitment. However, it was of no concern to her because she knew that she just needed to do the paperwork sign-ups for Quest, print the Quest directions and hand them over to her team. Her team of volunteers brought eight kids from their church. Because they had almost an equal number of volunteer chaperones, Monticello First was one of the churches that received the award for most in attendance from one church.
Brenda feels beyond blessed to have such a dedicated and reliable group of volunteers. The children will soon know, if they don’t already, that they literally have generations of God’s loved poured over them every time they are with their church family.