one church one child

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
A Nationally recognized adoption advocate visited Salisbury on Monday to inspire churches to help make a way for children.
The Rev. Dr. Wilbert Talley spoke to 24 area churches that are working to enhance the lives of foster children through the Rowan One Church-One Child ministry that started last year.
The local branch of the national program seeks to bring the faith community together with the Department of Social Services to help meet the needs of children in foster care and those in the adoption process.
“We’ve just been amazed at the progress that’s been made in this program in the past year,” Talley said.
Talley is currently the director of the National Network of Adoption Advocacy Programs and he travels all over the country promoting One Church-One Child.
“We use your program quite often as an example of what is possible,” he said.
In the last year, the 24 member churches contributed over $4,000 in cash and gift cards, as well as a long list of other items including school supplies, food, Christmas gifts, sheets, towels, diapers, toys, sports equipment and infant-care items.
Talley read a verse from the 19th chapter of Matthew in which Jesus said, “suffer the little children that come to me and forbid them not.”
“My theme is make a way for the children,” Talley said.
Talley said the maltreatment of children is pervasive in the United States today.
He talked about a 9-year-old girl who was on the front porch with a butcher knife when agency workers approached. The child’s mother was an alcoholic.
“The children are coming, but you can’t forget they’re coming from somewhere” that parents and families need help too, he said.
“My challenge to the faith community is, let’s see if we can’t, across the board, sit down at the same table and talk about this issue, because the children are coming to all of us,” Talley said.
“If we see the possibilities and understand the potential, we’re in the position to enhance the lives of children,” he said. “When we work hand in hand, the agency and the faith community, we make things happen and the potential is so great.”
Sandra Wilkes, director of Rowan County Department of Social Services, recognized churches for their partnership with the department and gave each church a framed certificate.
Wilkes explained that churches have also given something other than money: “the prayers you said on behalf of foster children, their biological families and their foster families.”
“All that you have done has improved the quality of life for these children,” she said.
Churches had a few minutes after the meal to share what their congregation was doing in the One Church-One Child ministry.
Angie Richard, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Salisbury, said her church has children’s sabbaths where they try to bring attention to the needs of children in the area.
“We try to motivate people to take action on behalf of children,” she said.
Richard also said First Presbyterian took up school supplies for foster children at Vacation Bible School last summer.
The Rev. John Tucker, pastor of Lebanon Lutheran Church, said, “It’s been amazing as to how much in our small church that people have been able to donate.”
Recently, one of Tucker’s congregants went from being a foster parent to an adoptive parent.
The Rev. Frank Smith, pastor of Mount Olive Full Gospel Baptist Church, said his congregation has donated clothing, school supplies and money.
“I’d like to think that were are going to make a difference,” he said.
Mount Tabor United Methodist Church served 40 children at Christmas through the star tree project.
Donna Wiseman, a church member, said she thought that was a good number since the church only has 53 members.
“Besides that, I think it just bonded our church together,” and many members said it was their most meaningful Christmas in a long time, she said.
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Churches that want to get involved with the Rowan One Church-One Child ministry should contact Jon Hunter, head of the One Church-One Child program with the Department of Social Services, at 704-216-7914 or jon.hunter@rowannc.gov.
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Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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