By Ansley Brackin
Redemption UMC in College Park wanted to make a difference for the local children participating in their summer camp this year. However, they also made a difference in the lives of a youth group in Sarasota Florida.
Redemption UMC has witnessed the needs of their young community. They see children growing up in housing projects, on reduced or free lunch during the school season.
Rev. Robert Crawford always had big goals for the church’s summer camp. They offer it for free and provide transportation for those who needed it. Healthy, filling meals are provided throughout the summer.
Even further, they incorporate math and reading tutoring to help kids stay ahead in school. In the final week kids from ages four and up take an exam. Those who score the highest in their age group receive a plaque of excellence.
Funds provided by Dunwoody UMC, Peachtree Road UMC, and others have gone towards supplies for arts and crafts, face painting, and exam awards. Their generosity allowed about seventy children in the College Park area to attend the unique summer camp this year.
Redemption UMC received more support in their 8th week of camp, when Jeff McCauley of Sarasota, Florida brought his youth group from Church of the Palms Presbyterian to help with bible studies and games.
The two churches connected through Student Life’s Urban Serve, a ministry that finds areas in need, and provides churches with beds, meals, and supplies to successfully serve those areas.
Throughout their week in College Park, the Sarasota teens, alongside their leader, lead VBS studies, shared testimonies and played games with the Redemption UMC campers. Their time together created a greater bond than expected.
“I’ve never been connected to a ministry that has been so open to us coming in,” says McCauley, who has worked with Student Life for about 12 years. “This is what heaven looks like.”
As the relationship between the two churches grew, a need to do more arose within the Florida youth group. They knew the church was raising money to take the campers to a Braves game the week after their departure, so they took up a love offering within their team to help with the cost.
Redemption UMC was so moved by their acts of love and kindness throughout the week that the invited them to stay and sing with them in church that Sunday. There were about 200 welcoming people in attendance to worship and give thanks to the work of both Redemption UMC and Church of the Palms.
Both churches hope to maintain their connection and continue visiting for many years to come.
Redemption UMC has provided this summer camp to the community for the last 5 years due to the donations and support of fellow congregations. If you would like to become involved with Redemption UMC’s Summer Camp Program, please contact Robert Crawford.