Our Christmas Offering this year will support Downtown Academy and unfunded Discipleship Ministries and unpaid staffing of Christ Community Church. Our goal is to raise $15,069. In this post, we wanted to take the opportunity to share a little more about the growth and needs for both Downtown Academy and Christ Community Church.
Sunday mornings at Christ Community have always been a place where a group of people gather and experience God’s love in so many different ways.
One way I have recently experienced this has been watching Q and Eukeria, two children from Downtown Academy, rush up to the front of the church to say hey to Ian White, their music teacher at Downtown Academy and member of Christ Community. I love watching how intrigued they are by what he is doing and how excited they are to run up and be a part of it. Seeing them feel so comfortable and safe to be in the front of this room of people and the ease in which they enjoy the time they spend here – in the nursery, at Family Week events, and the church bonfire – is so amazing. Watching the children from Downtown Academy become a part of our church family gives us such a simple picture of God's love for his children.
One of the goals of Downtown Academy is to empower children to become leaders in their homes, work, and communities by teaching them knowledge, character, and purpose through the Christ-centered academic curriculum. This process extends beyond their time in school and sports – it extends into the relationships they build with Lunch Buddies, men and women who are a part of the Athens community and commit long-term to supporting these children in multiple ways. Many of our members at Christ Community have developed relationships with the children at Downtown Academy and enable them to come to our weekly gathering and see a life and hope beyond their circumstances. Relationships like these displayed in our church is proof that the mission of Downtown Ministries – to build authentic and consistent relationships that teach the love and hope of Christ – is truly being carried out and fulfilled.
It’s not an empty promise; we are seeing those types of relationships develop right in front of us here at Christ Community.
The Downtown Academy programs themselves are also providing needed skills that will allow each child to achieve success. One specific example is of one child that entered his 1st grade class at a reading level well below the standard and by his 2nd grade year at Downtown Academy was reading at a 5th grade reading level. That is huge progress!! This is just one aspect of the academic achievement these children are experiencing. There are also chapel services each week, music, PE, art classes, and after-school programs that surround each child with a structure that encourages them in a safe and supportive environment of consistent people.
Downtown Academy is growing as an organization alongside those they serve. The school started with a Kindergarten and First Grade and each year has added an additional grade level. At the end of this year, they will begin offering Kindergarten through Fourth Grade classes. They have also added programs that are focused on meeting the specific needs they have seen in the children at the school.
Enter our Christmas Offering.
The first $10,069 of our Christmas offering this year will go to support Downtown Academy by helping to fund the Academic Intervention Program, purchasing needed laptops for that program, the Music Program, and purchasing the 4th grade Bible and Reading Curriculum.
Funding these programs will allow the teachers to continue to make a meaningful impact on the children they serve each day. Through the Academic Intervention Program, designed and orchestrated by Christ Community member Jessi Garzarek, they are able to offer support services that extend beyond the scope of the classroom. The program provides individualized services such as counseling, behavior supports, academic interventions, and speech and language services. Our gift to this program and the purchase of laptops will give them the resources they need to effectively provide each of these services.
Our gift will also contribute resources that Downtown Academy needs to continue the trend of organizational growth. Helping to fund the Music Program, taught by Ian White, and 4th grade curriculum will provide the resources for each child to continue learning in an environment that has proven to be successful at equipping them academically as well as spiritually. It is such a wonderful opportunity for our church to not only fund an organization that is making great strides within the Athens community, but to also support our members who are working within the organization to love and care for these children in their daily work!
As we grow with this external ministry, we are also growing within our own church! Currently, our discipleship ministries are funded by individuals instead of our overall operational budget. While we're grateful for individual generosity, the hope is to include our different discipleship ministries in the church-wide operational budget. To do this, the desire is to grow our operational budget by 50,000 dollars in 2016 specifically to fund our discipleship ministries and unpaid staffing. We would love to financially bless each of the discipleship ministries with a launching pad of funds in January.
Therefore, $5,000 of our Christmas Offering will go to jumpstart funding our Men's Ministry, Women's Ministry, Students 6th-12th, College Ministry, Young Adult's Ministry, Family Week 2016, and the Director of Operations position.
These ministries create avenues for members, regular attenders, and new folks to become more connected and involved within the church. Supporting these ministries will provide a way to continue to walk alongside each other in a community that is committed to knowing Jesus and making His love known throughout the city.
You may be asking, "Well, what should I give?" Let's take the guessing away. We're asking that you would consider giving what you give in an month to our general offering, giving that also to our Christmas Offering.
The Christmas offering will take place on December 13. But, if you'd like to go ahead and give now, click here.
Blog written by Stephanie Brown, Christ Community Church member