It Takes a Village
Sitting, board room style in one of the church’s classrooms, we find the future virtuous women of Liberty SDA church in their Sisters For Christ (SFC) bi-weekly meeting. This three year old chapter of the eight year old organization claims most of the qualified girls (ages 10-18) of the church as members. The organization, founded at the Bladensburg SDA church, has the ultimate vision to develop self awareness and self-worth. The Sister Care Code includes looking out for the best interest of fellow sisters as well. The mission statement involves making a difference by learning to be role models and to be lady-like through their service to God.
In this meeting, the group is discussing upcoming plans.
Liberty’s Women’s Ministries sponsor SFC and the Dream Team is the group of Liberty women who lead and mentor the girls in their activities. The Dream Team consists of Sisters Shereen Bentley, Denise Cox, Mamie Harrigan, Diane Jones, Penny Jones-Williams, Sandra Reed, and Tenise Shakes.
Presenters, both from Liberty and outside organizations, give educational workshops to the girls. Past presentation topics included “A Peach Out of Reach” (a two-part workshop encouraging purity and chastity), Financial Planning, Healthy Dating Relationships, Skin Care for African-American Teens, and Etiquette. They even had a job fair with representation from the medical, scientific, financial, educational fields. They helped to make the girls aware of different fields they could pursue. Future presentations and workshops include Culinary Arts, Interviewing Skills and a presentation by a motivational speaker. Other activities planned for this year are a Mother-Daughter Role Reversal Retreat and Father-Daughter Brunch. Once a year, all the chapters gather for the SFC Awards Banquet, which is a formal affair.
While the Dream Team meets once a month for planning, the girls have some input on the types of activities they will engage in. They also get a chance to evaluate the seminar/workshop presenters as well as to evaluate how they are keeping up with the goals of the club.
The girls are very happy for the club. They appreciate the bonding exercises they take part in each time they meet. The older ones do see the importance of being role models to the younger girls in the church as they realize that the younger ones watch them.
Liberty’s little girls have their club for girls under the age of 10 called the Lilly Belles, which is under the direction of Sisters Stacey McKoy and Shirlene Brown. This year, 10 girls will reach their 10th birthday and will likely join SFC.
When asked, what is the most valuable thing she would be taking with her when she leaves SFC, 2008 President, Hopal said “A sense of direction . . . what we’re supposed to be as Christian young ladies.” Hopal’s mother proudly said “She’s ready to lead…not afraid to express herself.” Being naturally shy, SFC has really made a difference in Hopal’s life. She says it makes a difference in her behavior at her public school as well.
The SFC members turning 19 leave more confident and prepared to face the adult world as confident Christian young ladies.
A call went out from Ray Crawford, Men’s Ministries director, for someone to start a leadership development ministry for the boys and young men of Liberty. Bro. Kolubah Roberts stepped forward and recruited former member, Tarpa Zarzar to assist. Looking around Liberty church, Bro. Roberts also saw that there wasn’t much being done for the boys and young men in the way of mentoring. At this time The Jericho Boys, previously called the Brothers for Christ Ministry started. This group is now going into their third year.
Bro. Roberts and Bro. Tyrone McKoy came up with this more meaningful name. Says Bro. McKoy: “In trying to capture the hopes to train the boys to be warriors for God we both thought of the story of Jericho. We found that there were many great lessons to be learned from the story. Namely, having a close relationship with God; recognizing our dependence on God; developing the ability to obey God even if it doesn't seem to make sense, etc. But ultimately we hope to teach that if we are willing to follow God, we can do great and mighty things in His name and that nothing could stand in our way.”
Brothers Ray Crawford, Craig Davis, Thierry Lamour, Tyrone McKoy, Elder Earl Cox and Allen Pettaway volunteer their time to mentor and guide the members of Brothers for Christ. Elder Guilfoyle Rowe is the elder overseeing Men’s Ministries and The Jericho Boys.
With a goal of “Growing up in Christ” the Jericho Boys’ motto is taken from Joshua 1:9 – “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Their mission statement is taken from Romans 8:35-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . .” The boys are being asked to commit these verses to memory.
The ministry is made up of two groups: boys (ages 6-10) which Bro. McKoy oversees and young men (ages 11-17) overseen by Bro. Roberts. They are all being groomed to be better Christians and leaders for today and to be good husbands and fathers for tomorrow.
The younger boys engage in learning Bible verses and how to pray. Their energies are often expended in physical activities either inside or out in the fresh air. Looking for healthy outlets for their youthful energies, they are often engaged in games such as relay races, shuttle runs, kickball, basketball, and bowling. They are taught how to cooperate in playing together, while they come together to learn in a church environment.
The young men have the opportunity to get together with their mentors to discuss issues important to them. You may find them in a circle talking about things that happened during the week; they discuss how to make good decisions, how to exercise responsibility, the expectations of puberty, choosing a life partner and the Seventh-day Adventist fundamentals. They, as well as the younger boys are often encouraged to turn off the television at home and to do something constructive instead. They are also given lectures on various topics. This year, a career day is planned for the young men where volunteers from different professions will present information on different options for future careers. A speech class is planned for a month of public speaking training by Bro. Crawford.
The Jericho Boys sponsors father and son activities and go on field trips. They often enjoy bowling trips, and basketball games. To expose the boys to the world outside their comfort zones, they will be visiting social and cultural venues in the Baltimore Metro area. They have plans to visit the Blacks in Wax and the B&O railroad museums and also a session of the US Congress in Washington D.C.
“I like it because it teaches things that will help when we go into the outside world, said” Dominic.