By Rev. David Blackwood
I have been appointed to Bremen First UMC since July of 2021. Bremen, a small town of about 7,000 people, is seeing growth as the Atlanta suburbs move west and Carrollton expands north. We know from MissionInsite that the majority of people moving to Bremen are young families drawn to the area for the school system and housing. The church is working to welcome these new families to our community and to help them find a place of community and connection.
KidQuest gives an opportunity to get to know our community as we provide a needed resource. After-school care is important to many dual-income families, but Bremen City Schools do not currently have a bus system for children to get to and from school. Bremen First UMC has partnered with the school system to offer sign-ups to all families during elementary school registration and open house. The school provides a bus to transport the students from school to the church. Bremen First UMC is able to offer a free and safe place for kids once a week, and there is an opportunity for volunteers and staff at the church to get to know kids and their parents that are within our community.
For two hours every Wednesday afternoon, Bremen First UMC offers a “mini-VBS” experience to over 100 students.
This program, KidQuest, is designed to be a weekly after-school program offered on Wednesdays to children from kindergarten to fifth grade. The goal is to provide a weekday program to children within our community that is safe, welcoming, and loving. Here, each child has the opportunity to experience God’s love for them and develop their own faith journeys. The kids are provided snacks, play games, learn Bible stories, make art, and participate in mission projects. While some of the children are already involved with the church, many are not currently attending any faith-based places of worship.
Recently, the students from KidQuest, with the help of adult and youth volunteers, put on an art show for the community with all proceeds going to local missions opportunities selected by each grade level. Students spent one month creating pieces of art that were crafted during their art time. The pieces were gathered and the collection was displayed during a community “family-meal” provided by KidQuest volunteers. Parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and church members were able to “purchase” the art for a donation. Our art show raised over $1,400!
The mission experience for the children did not stop with the art show. During their mission time at KidQuest, students were taught about local ministries that are working around Bremen and our county. They were able to understand the needs of our community and about the people who are helping meet those needs. At the end of the lesson, each child cast their vote to decide which ministry they would like to help fund. For six weeks, students who came to KidQuest were able to create art, donate their work towards a community fundraiser, and then decide how to distribute the funds. This is helping create life-long disciples of Jesus!
Events like our art show provide us time with local families to share stories and build community. It also allows us to personally invite them to other happenings around our church, like Easter Hunts and Vacation Bible School. We have seen the value in getting to know people, meeting them where they are, and providing them with value as individuals and families. Our Sunday morning experiences have already felt the ripple effect of this program as we are outgrowing our current children’s space with over 60 children coming weekly to hear and know about God’s love.
Rev. David Blackwood is pastor of Bremen First UMC.