Success of Roswell UMC's job networking ministry makes it a national model


      People are often willing to travel a long way to find work. Apparently, those who want to help people find work are willing to travel far greater distances.
       How else to explain why a pastor from California would be willing to travel to North Georgia just to learn more about a job-networking ministry.
        The Rev. Rex Wolins, a pastor on staff at 14,000-member Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Calif., is making a cross-country trip to see Roswell UMC’s successful job-seeker ministry up close.
          “Our goal has been that this ministry travels across the United States,” said Katherine Simons, co-director of the Roswell UMC Job Networking Ministry. “We thought it might work its way gradually across, but it looks like it might start all the way on the West Coast and maybe we’ll meet in the middle.”
    Wolins will be the special guest at Roswell UMC’s May 9 networking meeting. Wolins has been hired by an 8,000-member Presbyterian church in Las Vegas to create a job networking ministry for the Nevada congregation. He discovered Roswell UMC through his research.
       A spot on the ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer and several television and newspaper local stories have helped boost national awareness of the 20-year-old group. Twice monthly meetings have attracted as many as 400 jobless adults and volunteers to help run the event.
    Monday’s schedule includes a lunch with select church leaders, a Crossroads Career Course, and dinner with a guest speaker followed by workshops on details like writing resumes and interview skills.
    Wolins doesn’t win the award for farthest distance traveled to attend a meeting. Simons said a gentleman from Holland heard about the network through Crown Ministries, and returned home with a plan to start a career network there.
    Organizers have published a book, “Loving Your Neighbor,” that describes the program. More copies are being ordered since 1,300 copies have been distributed in a little more than a year.
    To respond to the changing needs of job seekers, leaders have added accountability groups for under 30 and over 50 and sessions to help couples deal with the stress of being jobless.
    There’s no doubt that the program is making a difference, according to Simons. It’s evident in the posture of the participants.
    “You’d be surprised how different they look when they walk in and when they walk out. We get so many notes from job seekers, thanking us for the encouragement that has made them feel better.”