Beyond Grace: Grace Kids Volunteers
Sally Hughes & Phyllis Cochran
As parents, we want to provide opportunities along our child’s journey to manhood or womanhood that shift their inward focus toward Christ and the benefit of others. One way to provide an opportunity is for our children to participate in Sunday morning Grace Kids programming, where they’ll learn about Jesus, gain friendships, and be shepherded by committed leaders.
As adults, we hope to engage in noble endeavors that measure up in the world. In March of last year, when the pandemic was getting well under way, GFC paused onsite gatherings. We knew it would be important to provide consistency to Grace families, so new methods of teaching and encouragement began. Online lessons, virtual storytelling, funny videos, social media interaction, and drive-by packet pick-up took over. Parents began posting how their kids were indeed missing being onsite with their friends and leaders, but that they were also enjoying the online interaction happening throughout the week, not just on Sundays.
In a blog last spring, we introduced you to high school student Julia Gilmore, who made it her mission to help keep kids connected to Jesus and their church family through providing an at-home craft with their monthly Grace Kids programming packets. She said, “For the last lesson of the month, the kids learned about the ‘Great Commission’ – sharing the Gospel with the world and watching it grow. With that, I created the flower pot crafts, where the kids would be able to plant a seed and help it grow.” Julia wasn’t asked to do this. She saw an opportunity and rose to the occasion. (You can read the full blog here.) In another blog, we showed how God was still working even when we weren’t gathering in person. After receiving an Easter packet put together by the Grace Kids team, which included an activity called Resurrection Eggs, 8-year-old Miles Rannick began asking his parents questions about Christ, His sacrifice for us, and what it means to follow Him. Miles accepted Christ as his savior in the spring and was baptized that fall. (You can read the full blog written by Miles here.)
Teaching and serving children is important, and we would like to share with you about a few Grace Kids leaders who have made it their mission to stay connected to the children they lead on Sunday mornings, even when they can’t see them in person.
Sally Hughes and Phyllis Cochran have both served in the Grace Kids preschool ministry for several years. The families of the kids they serve know how special and important Sally and Phyllis are, and the pandemic has proven to be no exception. Every week since March 2020, Sally and Phyllis have written cards, notes, and letters to each of their preschool students. Every week! They wanted these children to know that they are loved and thought of often by the leaders they’ve learned to trust.
Here’s what a few of the kids have to say when we asked them about their weekly mail…
What is your favorite part about getting a note in the mail each week from Ms. Phyllis and Ms. Sally?
Logan Johnson: Stickers
Max Cooper: The stickers!
Woods Teilhet: Stickers!
Tim Holland: Getting mail with my name on it. And the stickers!
Why do you think Ms. Phyllis and Ms. Sally write and mail you a note each week?
Logan Johnson: ‘Cause they love me.
Max Cooper: Because they miss and love me.
Woods Teilhet: Because they love me.
Tim Holland: Ummm… they love me?
What do you miss most about going to Grace Kids on Sunday morning?
Logan Johnson: Looking out the broken window and playing with friends.*
Max Cooper: Playing with toys in our room.
Woods Teilhet: Playing and drawing.
Tim Holland: I’m not sure. It’s been a long time!
*(disclaimer: The window isn’t actually broken. Some of its tint has peeled a bit. The Grace Kids area is completely safe!)
What is your favorite lesson you learned from Ms. Phyllis and Ms. Sally when you were able to see them in person?
Logan Johnson: Jesus helped the man walk.
Max Cooper: Jesus died on the cross for my sins!
Woods Teilhet: The story of the guy that was swallowed by the whale.
Tim Holland: Jonah and the whale.
Is their anything you would like to tell Ms. Phyllis and Ms. Sally?
Logan Johnson: Thank you for thinking of me. I love you.
Max Cooper: I’m happy because they make me feel good. Thank you. Keep sending them, please!
Woods Teilhet: Thank you for giving me letters.
Tim Holland: Thank you.
Since we’ll use your answers to write a story for GFC’s website, is their anything you want to tell the people reading this?
Logan Johnson: Jesus loves all of us.
Max Cooper: Tell others how nice they are.
Such good advice. By the way, each one answered individually at home with their own families, so they weren’t just copying the answer of the one before them. They know they are loved by and important to their Grace Kids leaders. Can you see how serving children makes a difference?
In this week’s The Pulse email and blog, Matt shared this…
“One of the core strategies we identified to help us accomplish our vision [when Covid showed up] was reaching the next generation. There are many different ways we go about this as a church, including coming alongside parents as the primary spiritual influence in their kids’ lives. But one of our key strategies is providing environments for kids to connect with others and experience God’s grace on Sunday mornings. As has always been the case, we are reliant on GFCers to make these environments possible through volunteering during a Sunday service.
As things improve and we begin to have more families attend GFC in person, I want to ask those of you who feel comfortable attending in person (because you have received a vaccine or recovered from Covid-19) to consider serving in Grace Kids. To be clear, we do not want anyone to serve who feels uncomfortable or for whom it would be unwise. But for those who can, this is an opportunity to serve families in our church and to invest in the next generation! If you are interested, find out more here. No experience required.”
We would love to have you join the Grace Kids team! Click the link above for more info and to sign up.
In the fall, Sally and Phyllis made the choice to move up to Kindergarten with their current students when they were promoted to that class when school started back. Along with Grace Kids Elementary Coordinator Mike Anakwe and Sally’s husband Rob Hughes, they delivered “welcome to kindergarten” signs to each student’s home. Grace Kids programming for grades K-6 will begin meeting onsite again this Sunday, February 7. Sally will be leading in person and Phyllis will be leading alongside Sally, but joining virtually.
Thank you to Sally Hughes and Phyllis Cochran for continuing to be faithful servants, and thank you to countless others that are doing the same. What you do makes all the difference.