One morning in the Short Circuit, there was an article about the UM Foundations grant program for new ministries. Glen Dale UMC had been looking for ways to reach our community for the glory of God and the building of the kingdom. In conversations around Kingdom Come by Reggie McNeal, I had heard about literacy and illiteracy issues that Rev. Mike Linger spoke of, and had been thinking about the question, “How can we improve people’s lives?”
So in conversations throughout the church, we planted the seeds of a community reading program.
The day after I saw the grant information, I drove to the cabin in Mineral Wells. Often, I pray while driving, other times the spirit moves. On this occasion the spirit moved, and I outlined a grant proposal, which I began working on that night. Over the next week, it all came together.
Our rationale for the program is to be more involved in our child development center, elementary school, and community. We want to improve peoples lives. Reading to children exposes them to many more words in the first few years of life, which improves literacy and gives the joy of reading, and all that can be learned by reading.
I submitted the grant application quickly (there was a short deadline). Near the end of August, we received our grant request!
The plan is to start reading now (September) in the Child development center, begin reading in October to the elementary school, and next summer have a reading day in the community park.
We will rotate classes and read on alternating weeks, so that in the course of a month, we will have read to all 7 classes in the child development center. Our hope is to recruit others from our church, and even the community, as word spreads.
I began reading on Tuesday, September 21, to one of the preschool classes and the “waddler” class (one year olds).
What fun… and work, but fun work! I had forgotten how difficult it was to read a book while holding it for the children to see the pictures. The book I chose for this first session was “What God is Like” by Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner. It was a joy to read.
The Grant will allow us to get the needed background check for readers and order books each reader desires to read.
I am excited to see what this program becomes over the next year!
Thanks to the United Methodist Foundation for the grant!
Peace and blessings
Pastor Chris Duckworth
Glen Dale United Methodist Church, Glen Dale WV