“And a little child shall lead them.” One United Methodist church in Maryland sets aside a Sunday each month to let the little ones take charge and participate in outreach programs they choose. The results have been powerful.
There is, at Silver Spring United Methodist Church, in Silver Spring, Maryland, a special place for kids in community outreach: right up front…
(Leader to kids on altar steps) “Now, there’s a very special Mission Mania today.”
Young leaders are cultivated here, as social consciousness is encouraged through a small-hands-on program called Mission Mania.
This Sunday’s project is collecting and organizing donations for the church’s community pantry.
(Child in group speaks) “A pantry is where you put lots of food in the closet.”
(Leader speaks to kids) “We don’t ask them questions, we don’t say ‘Do you really need food?’”
Jake Joholske, 9-year-old: “Helping people, it makes me feel really good.”
Nine-year-old Jake Joholske wears his trademark bow tie, in part because he wants people to know they should take him seriously.
Jake Joholske: “It just really frustrates me that people say that kids can’t help but kids are a new generation of our world. So if one kid helps and more and more and then when they grow up our world will be a lot better.”
Last year, Jake learned that a lot of people in Africa don’t have shoes. He wanted the kids to work on this with him.
Marie Matthews, Director of Christian Education, Silver Spring United Methodist Church: “I actually said ‘How ‘bout if we wait?’ and he said ‘No, the kids need shoes now.’ And all the kids agreed with him and they actually collected 412 pairs of shoes.”
Anna Tyler, 11-year-old: “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that more and more people need help.”
Anna Tyler was eight when she decided a Thanksgiving food drive shouldn’t end with Thanksgiving, so she kept working at it in her own neighborhood.
Marie Matthews: “…and showed up at church with her car full of bags of food, and she said it’s because of what she learned in church.”
(Leader speaks to kids) “Everybody’s gonna take a bag and they’re gonna put one of each of those things in the bag.”
Marie Williams: “John Wesley says do all that you can for all the people that you can, and I think that’s very important to teach our kids, as far as being a United Methodist and also as far as being a Christian.”
This congregation reflects an ethnically diverse, mostly working class suburb of Washington DC. The children see that a lot of people struggle- and that it’s easy to overlook that.
Francesca Weigand, 10-year-old: “Kids are kind of I think they’re more open minded and they think about their surroundings.”
The Rev. Rachel Cornwell, Pastor, Silver Spring United Methodist Church: “There’s no politics for kids, right? There’s no worry about larger systemic issues.”
(Little girl holds out a penny) “I found it in my car and I want to help somebody who needs it.”
The Rev. Rachel Cornwell: “The kids have very much inspired us to not have as many questions or hesitations about serving people.”
And that is how Mission Mania is turning children into leaders at Silver Spring United Methodist Church.
Jake Joholske: “When the kids are grownups, they’ll know that they can always help people.”
For more information, contact Silver Spring UMC at 301-587-1215.
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was first posted on March 17, 2015.