Nearly a decade ago, The Church at Eastern Oaks in Montgomery decided to try something new for the summer.
“We took the entire summer on Wednesday nights and went door to door and asked, ‘How can we pray for you, and what’s something our church could do to serve the community,’” Pastor Daniel Gillenwater recalled.
They got a recurring answer to the second question: “Our kids need help in school.”
So they took that and ran with it, Gillenwater said.
The church started hosting a breakfast every first and third Saturday morning, helping students with homework or tutoring if they needed it.
“We had schoolteachers in our congregation and college grads who didn’t mind helping and someone who volunteered to make breakfast,” Gillenwater said. “Depending on the crowd, sometimes it’s one on one, sometimes it’s one tutor for four or five kids.”
All ages involved
The focus is kindergarten through 12th grade, but “we’ve had a few college kids that needed some help with math, and we have a couple of math whizzes in the church,” Gillenwater said.
They’ve also helped a few preschoolers with the alphabet and some non-English-speaking families learn the language, he added.
“We haven’t turned anybody away if they show up asking for help. We will give whatever help we can give.”
One of Gillenwater’s favorite aspects of the ministry is seeing the way people across the church have volunteered.
“We’ve had several of our young people, fifth and sixth graders … who have come and helped with tutoring children younger than them,” he said. “You don’t have to have a teaching degree or college degree to help.”
The ministry fits right in with the church’s mission, Gillenwater noted.
“We are big believers in needs-based outreach. We believe very strongly in trying to meet needs so we can share the gospel with them.”
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