Church crosses city lines to support youth
Church of the Master was pleased to give a $2,500 grant to the city of South Euclid for its 2011 Summer Youth Initiative. The grant comes from American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) and its Children in Poverty (CIP) initiative.
This past spring, Sonya Pryor-Jones, a South Euclid resident, asked the church to consider providing support to a proposal by Councilwoman Ruth Gray. Pryor-Jones, an education and organizational development consultant, submitted a detailed and compelling proposal to the denomination’s mission department on behalf of Church of the Master.
According to Pryor-Jones, "Research shows that where and how youth spend their time outside of school has critical implications for their development. Impoverished youth, in particular, benefit from participation in structured activities that offer constructive interaction with adults and peers, service and leadership opportunities, and challenging, engaging tasks."
Not intended as a project’s sole support, ABHMS awards CIP grants as expressions of gratitude to congregations, regions and community ministries for answering the call to care for children and families struggling to overcome the challenges of poverty.
"Poverty in America is more pervasive than we willingly admit. Between 20 and 25 percent of our children contend with inadequate nutrition, mediocre education, deficient health care and many other stumbling blocks to living a healthy and productive life. Poverty affects us all, whether directly or indirectly, and the harsh reality that many of our children are living in families that are barely surviving calls for our compassionate response," said the Rev. Lisa Harris, ABHMS National Coordinator of the CIP Initiative and Christian Center Relations.
Church of the Master is also a part of the Cleveland Baptist Association (CBA). The Rev. Dr. Leonard Thompson Sr., executive minister, is also pleased that the denomination can make a difference in local communities. He referred to the historical giving of this organization: "ABHMS has been working with American Baptist congregations and regions to address the challenges of poverty and inspire hope in the lives of the more than 14 million children, ages newborn to 18, in the United States and Puerto Rico who live in impoverished communities."
Thompson, who is charged with the spiritual leadership of 36 churches in the Greater Cleveland area, is continually seeking ways to connect the local church with denominational information and resources. He emphasized that American Baptist Churches USA was a major contributor of aid to New Orleans, Haiti, Japan, as well as countries and causes throughout the world. Pastor Christine A. Smith, president of CBA, wants to see more churches give back to the community—both financially and with volunteer support. "Our churches are already collaborating with hospitals, prisons, schools and so many other organizations to provide outstanding support to God’s people." Smith referred to the CBA’s mission to strengthen local churches.
Church of the Master is located in Cleveland Heights, in a community that has more than 170,000 school-age children. The church has historically made youth ministry a cornerstone of its mission. Rev. Rena B. Hunter has pastored the congregation for more than eight years. "Many adults in their 50s and 60s will remember Teen Town, a highly successful event sponsored by Church of the Master that attracted hundreds of teens from all over the city in the 1960s and 70s. When I tell people I am associated with Church of the Master, they reminisce with a smile, whether they now live in Willoughby, Chagrin Falls or Lakewood, or still live in the Heights. It is our mission to return to those days of being both missionary and sanctuary to our youth," Hunter explained.
The church moved to Cleveland Heights in 1921. "We have the benevolent seeds of John D. and Laura Spelman Rockefeller planted in our church family tree," noted Hunter. "Of course, we would give!"
Church of the Master staff