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Highland Avenue Church provides outreach to single parents, childrencomment (0)

March 18, 2010

By Anna Swindle

When Steve Patrick became pastor of Highland Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, last summer, he quickly became aware of an obvious need in the community: a single parent outreach.

For Patrick, the ministry opportunity is something he could relate to based on personal experience.

“Both of my daughters became single parents, and I saw firsthand the struggles they went through and how hard it was for them to find ministries to help heal those open wounds,” Patrick said.

So he and members of his Montgomery Baptist Association church are trying to provide an outlet for single parents with a ministry based on James 1:27, which calls Christians to help widows and orphans.

And they’re looking to do much more than just meet physical needs and provide child care, though those things are certainly part of the program. The church plans to involve several agencies as well to give parents access to job-training and child-rearing courses, among others.

Parents interested in the program must go through a screening process as well as an initial interview with either Patrick or another pastor to help determine their specific needs.

And there are stipulations for parents’ involvement.

“We will have some requirements as far as lifestyle and a commitment to a number of things,” said Andy Poole, a Highland Avenue Baptist member who, along with his wife, Sandy, has been instrumental in getting the ministry going.

“We will also be looking at a commitment to a combined Bible study and information program that will go over about a 20- to 21-week period.”

On Feb. 19, the church hosted a kickoff banquet for the ministry. It was a success and attracted a sizable crowd, according to church member Jerry Burger.

Patrick said his congregation has been supportive of the ministry from the start, something that has helped it come together quickly and really gain momentum. Several members have signed up to be partners, meaning they donate $5 per month to the ministry. The church hopes to have 2,000 partners eventually.

And such support is a key ingredient in a successful ministry, Patrick said.

“I believe the most important components to a successful ministry are, one, that there’s a need and, two, that there are people willing to help meet that need,” he said. “And I think we have that in this case.”

Since the ministry is in its beginning stages, it’s hard to tell what direction it will ultimately take, but Poole said eventually the church hopes to expand this ministry to other smaller churches. For now, though, the focus is on meeting the needs of single parents in its community.

“Right now, we’ll just do whatever we can do initially,” Poole said. “It may be a small number; it may be a large number. Down the road, we’re dreaming big dreams and big goals.”

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