Foster Support Faith Alliance
Last Thursday morning we had over 75 local pastors, church leaders and foster agency representatives gather for our third Foster Support Faith Alliance Lunch. The goal of the Foster Support Faith Alliance is for the church to be a catalyst for change and a source of Christ’s healing to our foster care system, that is, by definition, built on broken relationships. We recognize that in an effort to bring about healing, the Church needs to engage in holistic support ministry. So, on Thursday, church leaders heard from a panel of professionals, each representing a specific people group of the foster care system in need of the church’s support: foster parents, child welfare staff, and even biological parents. We desire to see children in the foster care system find permanency in families that love and care for them, so we need to build a health scaffolding of support, by serving each of the adults in their lives.
Our panel on Thursday featured Christy Tennant-Krispin, a foster mother who started a YouTube channel and blog for current & prospective foster parents. Christy painted a verbal picture of the challenges of being suddenly thrown into foster parenthood with three small children and spoke candidly about the internal struggle foster parents face to love these children. She shared some insightful ways that churches can serve foster parents.
The second panel member was Melissa Hoogendoorn, supervisor with the Children’s Administration and employee of 15 years. Melissa was actually fighting back tears as she shared a day in the life of a social worker and was effusive in her praise of the support the local churches have already begun to display to her staff.
Our final panelist was Dana Dildine, coordinator of Parents for Parents, a program that educates, mentors and supports parents whose children have been removed from their custody and who are currently navigating the dependency court process. Dana shared her experience of going through the very same process herself and was successful in reunifying with her children. She even revealed that she had been through Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s Hope Place program and that it was there she found Jesus!
The most beautiful aspect of this panel, was that even though these people groups are often seen as being at odds with one another (bio parents vs. foster parents, social workers vs. bio parents, even foster parents vs. social workers)- all three of these women had an obvious empathy for the difficulties that each faces. In addition, after each panel member spoke, we were able to hear from one of our churches or local networks in the FSFA who is serving one of the facets of the foster system.
We at Light up the City, see immense value in church leaders learning from, sharing with, and collaborating with other leaders from the same community. So, along with hearing from the panel, we also were able to celebrate what each of our local networks had accomplished since the last time we met in June. There was much to celebrate! In addition, attendees were able to gather with the rest of their local network. Following the speakers, each group participated in a mini-local network meeting- establishing plans for the coming holidays and into the new year.
Our next chance to gather, will be on Thursday, March 1st for our Annual Orphan Care Seminar. This is the largest event we host all year. In conjunction with the Refresh Conference at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Light up the City will be flying in Jason Johnson again this year to present a full-day seminar on orphan care ministry. Not only is Jason the Director of Church Ministry Initiatives with Christian Alliance for Orphans, he speaks all over the country about strategies for starting & leading orphan care ministries. He has written four books on foster care ministry, and blogs regularly at JasonJohnsonBlog.com.
Jason will be focusing the first half of the day on why churches should care about Orphan Care ministry and then after lunch will launch into the nuts and bolts of what it looks like in the midst of your church program structure. The cost for the entire day is only $25 and includes free lunch. If you have any interest in learning more about foster care ministry, please attend at least the first half of the seminar. You’ll walk away both inspired and equipped.