ABHMS helps church provide Christmas party to children in upstate NY

For the third year in a row, children from the Neighborhood Transformation Center in Elmira, N.Y., will experience a joy-filled Christmas party—replete with caroling, activities and games, a meal and—of course—toys, thanks to American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) and United Baptist Church (UBC) of Elmira.

While UBC—a congregation of approximately 50 members aged 5-96—is a bit less than 2 miles from the center, an ABHMS-conducted missional church training program provided the impetus for the church to become involved with the center.

“As per our [missional] training, we interviewed a variety of folks whose hearts were involved with their projects,” says UBC’s pastor, the Rev. Arthur Campbell (“Skip”) Reed Jr. “The Transformation Center was one such project. We had the initiators come to our worship service, tell us about what they were up to. From there, we proceeded to get involved.”

The funds for the party are provided, in part, by a grant from the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund, which is administered by ABHMS to qualifying churches in New York state.

Throughout the year, the center provides a variety of services free to the community, including a meal on Thursdays and Saturdays, an after-school and summer program for ages 5-12; parenting classes; a caregiver support group; a community garden; and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

At last year’s Christmas party, children aged 2-12 enjoyed pizza, salad and doughnuts. Approximately 50 individuals attended.

The event is important, Reed maintains, because it involves the most disenfranchised individuals from the most disenfranchised Elmira neighborhood.

“This party provides the setting for joy with resources otherwise unavailable—the time, access, and practice at putting together a good time for others to enjoy,” he says. “Children are outfitted to find and go with the joy around and within them. How it feels to witness this is to have the gratitude for being drawn in with the children to realms of immediate joy and playfulness that is truly contagious.”

For more information about the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund, contact the Rev. Cassandra Carkuff Williams, Ed.D., ABHMS director of Discipleship Ministries, or Dave L. Moore Jr., ABHMS director of investments.