Third Presbyterian Church-St. Louis (TPC) sought to be transformative in the underserved community surrounding the church. A demographic study of the surrounding community yielded the greatest need where transformation could take place was through the children. As a result of this study TPC began a summer enrichment camp to engage the children of the community teaching things such as healthy cooking, computers, arts/crafts, drama, dancing, and karate as well as scripture memorization. The children receive two hot meals and a snack daily as well as 8 fieldtrips during the summer months.
Ten years ago TPC started with 20 kids for 2 weeks and now this program will have over 200 children for 8 weeks 12 hours a day during the summer of 2016. In order to enhance the program we have partnered with the City of Moline Acres who assists in making sure families who move to the area know about the program. The Riverview Gardens School district has become a major partner as well, allowing TPC to utilize one of their elementary schools for the additional space needed for the camp this year. TPC also sponsors a winter coat drive for the community where, for the last 5 years, TPC has provided new coats for over 400 children.
TPC has grown from 100 members in 2006 to 500 members presently with one of the primary factors being the concentration on children. Urban ministry transformation comes with meeting physical, spiritual and educational needs of the community. The mindset and normal disposition of “This is the way we have always done it” will not bring about the change and growth necessary in today’s society. Churches in an urban setting must be innovative in engaging and really seeking to meet the community where it is and minister to the immediate need.