Books on Mission for Children

Compassion is Key

Compassion and Justice

Although she may not remember, I first met Beth Templeton during my tenure as Family Literacy Specialist for families of young children in Greenville, South Carolina many years ago. At that time, she worked with United Ministries , a non-profit that provides “life changing opportunities and advocacy for people in our community who lack education or employment skills, who are in financial crisis, or who are homeless”. Beth, and many others who were dedicated to serving people in the community reminded so many of us about the importance of compassion and justice. Many of the families I worked with benefited from the work of United Ministries…so did I.

It was an Episcopal priest who helped a van load of young, bright-eyed educators shed our middle class attitudes, and begin to hear the stories of those who our society would categorize as the “have-nots”. We took a tour of our community that is not on the visitor’s bureau site, but opened our eyes to the world where the families we taught spent their lives, and where we would be spending much of our time for the next three years.

I discovered early in my adulthood, that we all have a Beth or two in our communities, and they are our best resources for helping children live into the command to love our neighbors. Beth’s book, A Coat Named Mr. Spot is a great storybook for parents, guardians, ministers, and grandparents to read with children to help them grow in empathy for classmates who may live in poverty.

What resources am I using to help children grow in compassion and justice?

Other Books for Consideration:

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor

Our Big Home by Linda Glaser

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne Disalvo Ryan

A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Fine & Rene Moreno





Children’s Sabbath 2015

How will you celebrate Children's Sabbath?

How will you celebrate Children’s Sabbath?

This year’s Children’s Sabbath theme is “How Long Must I Cry for Help? Bending the Arc toward God’s Vision of Justice for Children.” As United Methodists, our roots rest in the care for those who are vulnerable, especially children, and we participate in this weekend of advocacy for children “that aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.” During this important weekend we join with other denominations and religions to bring to light the plight of children in a “bigger, more powerful and more inspiring way than the efforts of any one congregation” or denomination can accomplish on its own.

There are several ways to celebrate the lives of children while drawing attention to their needs:

  • Plan services, educational sessions, and activities in your local church, including a sermon delivered by someone who advocates for children.
  • Join with one or more places of worship in shared services bringing congregations together.
  • Work with other congregations to sponsor an interfaith service to which the entire community is invited.
  • Invite local organizations serving children or working on their behalf to join in the celebration of these community-wide multifaith Children’s Sabbath observations.

The Children’s Defense Fund shares the four elements of a Children’s Sabbath Weekend:

  • The service of worship or prayers, during which the divine mandate to nurture and protect children calls us to respond to the needs of children today;
  • Educational programs, during which all ages learn more about the needs of children today and the social-political structures that keep children in need, explore the sacred texts, teaching, and traditions that lead us to serve and seek justice for children, and develop specific, active responses to help children;
  • Activities that immediately engage participants in compassionate service to help children and in action to seek justice (such as writing letters or emails to elected officials); and
  • Follow-up actions that use the inspiration, information, and motivation of the Children’s Sabbath weekend to lead individual members and the congregation as a whole into new, effective efforts to improve the lives of children in the congregation, community, and nation throughout the year.


2015 National Observance of Children’s Sabbath Manual

How Children’s Sabbath and Children’s Sunday Are Different

Planning Children’s Sabbath Webinar Recording with Shannon Daley-Harris

Homeless Children in Our Backyard

Offer Relationship

In the late nineties, I worked in a family literacy program with parents who did not complete high school, and had at least one child under the age of four. Part of this was new territory for me because daily I was thrust into a world of food insecurity, homelessness, abuse, and unsafe situations. During one home visit in particular I found out that the address the mother had given me did not exist. She and her children slept wherever they could find a place, ate whatever they could scavenge, and hid their lives in plain sight. Can you imagine the energy this took? I knew that in order to understand the community that I was serving I had to turn my values upside down in order to understand the energy it took my families to survive each day. They didn’t have the privilege of an education, secure housing, and a healthy support system, and they showed up!

When the report on child homelessness in America came out this week, it sparked a conversation that took me back to those days of serving families who were home insecure. Most of the people in my life (family and friends) did not want to hear me talk about my day if it involved the awfulness of the events of the day…and there were some awful days. They wanted to hear about the irresistible laughter of the two-year-olds or the adventures of me getting lost in my hometown trying to find homes on unmarked roads (pre-GPS). The tough stuff overwhelms us, especially when we believe we have nothing to offer to fix the situation.

Offer Them Christ

Offer Them Christ

We are so blessed as disciples of Jesus Christ. We can delight in the laughter, and also offer love to those who are in need. It is not an either/or situation. Ministry with children is a both/and. We serve the children in the congregation and the children in the larger community. We use all appropriate resources to help our children grow in faith, to help them grow as disciples. We also focus our efforts on going out as disciples of Jesus Christ to serve children in need.

On the night of the Incarnation, Mary and Joseph were literally home insecure. More children than we want to admit came into this world no different from Jesus. There are between 100 and 150 million children around the world living on the street. 2.5 million children in America do not have a place to call home. How many children in your community are homeless?

Offer Children Hope

Offer Children Hope

Just because a child lives in the cycle of poverty does not make that child hopeless. We can offer hope by being the hands and feet of Jesus. We can offer children and their families hope by going out into the communities where we live to advocate for children, to make sure all children’s needs are met, and by going beyond Christmas toy drives. They need us the other 364 days a year, too.

The church can also respond to this crisis by supporting local agencies that offer effective responses to child homelessness like:

• Safe, affordable housing

• Education and employment opportunities

• Comprehensive needs assessments of all family members

• Services that incorporate trauma-informed care

• Attention to identification, prevention, and treatment of major depression in mothers

• Parenting supports for mothers

• Research to identify evidence-based programs and services

As we think about what books we need to offer children, let’s also think about purchasing those books for children who may never have a new book. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus!