Local churches are a huge part of EmberHope Youthville’s mission to inspire change and impact lives, and the blessings are mutual for both our organization and the churches involved. One such church, First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Dodge City, has partnered with EmberHope Youthville for more than 80 years.
Reverend Jerre Nolte, who’s served the congregation since 2015, tells us his personal experience began when church members created over 150 prayer cards that year for the children at EmberHope Youthville. “We went out to see the cards stapled to the bulletin board at EmberHope Youthville, and the students would look for their names to see if someone was praying for them,” he says. Although the campus is now closed, we have found new ways the church can stay connected with EmberHope Youthville’s mission by providing office space to their Functional Family Therapist program serving families in the Dodge City area.
“Christmas is also a special time to connect with foster families,” Rev. Nolte says. “We have a tree in the narthex of the church with the names of eight to ten foster children, which provides a really strong connection.” In addition, First UMC continues to brainstorm new ideas for ongoing support. “We’d like to utilize space in the church for collecting donated items,” Rev. Nolte says.
Serving EmberHope Youthville has been a blessing to the congregation as well, Rev. Nolte tells us. “We’ve had several church members serve on the board of EmberHope Youthville,” he says. “They always come back energized and full of ideas for how the church can be more engaged and involved.” He encourages any interested church to be creative and look for ways to connect. “It can be as simple as providing a room for a therapist to use or giving gifts at Christmas time. There’s always something a church can do to help.”