With a theme of “Walk By Faith,” children attending "Wonderful Wednesdays" at Talley’s Chapel United Methodist Church sing, dance, play instruments to Christian music, and learn Bible lessons each week.
“We always present Jesus to them,” said Rita Stroud, program director. “He presented to them in song and in class. And, we always pray together.”
Wonderful Wednesdays is an outreach program for both community children and regular participants at Talley’s Chapel. Stroud said that, each year, she and several volunteers invite children within a five- to six-mile radius of the small country church in the Morristown District.
Wonderful Wednesdays, which started in 2005, received a $1,000 Change for Children grant this year, the second in three years.
For six weeks, the children from ages three to teens meet weekly in the church for two hours. They sing upbeat Christian songs for the first 20 minutes, including “Jesus Loves Me,” “God Made the Animals,” and the group’s theme song, “Walk By Faith.” The children then march down to the fellowship hall for supper, split into age-appropriate groups for Bible lessons, crafts and later, games.
“Sometimes we act out the lesson, like the good Samaritan,” Stroud said. “They all play a part, and when we get finished, we talk about the Bible scripture, and how they feel about it.” Another lesson, "Be Kind, or Not Be Kind," taught the Golden Rule and the importance of treating people the way they want to be treated.
Stroud said the group prays at the beginning of the evening, providing children the opportunity to articulate any prayer concerns. They also close with a prayer, then let the children play games until parents arrive.
Wonderful Wednesdays sessions run for six weeks. Stroud said she plans a big event, such as a fishing trip for the boys and an overnight sleepover for the girls. After a two-week break, the program starts again full force.
Most of the children attending the Wednesday event will participate in the church’s Christmas program. Stroud said many parents and other relatives who don’t attend church often come for the performance.
Currently, 14 people volunteer at Talley’s Chapel for the program – four teachers and about 10 cooks and kitchen helpers.
Each week, the church feeds the children a balanced meal, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Stroud said a lot of the children may not get a good meal at home. One youngster always asks for a meal to take home to his younger sister, she said. The Change for Children grant will help offset the cost of food and crafts supplies.