Pentecost Offering helps teen mothers and their children flourish
As a high school student, Lily Jones had a beautiful 18-month-old daughter and a strong desire to finish school.
Lily knew the importance of education to her future and that of her daughter Sophia, but day care posed a problem. Lily’s family and Sophia’s father’s family had been helpful, but they could no longer provide the day care Sophia needed. In Ligonier, Indiana, a town with a population of 4,400, child care choices are limited, particularly for those in challenging financial circumstances.
Fortunately, Lighthouse Ministry Daycare, a provider housed in and supported by Ligonier’s First Presbyterian Church, had a spot for Sophia.
Parents like Lily and children like Sophia are top concerns for Lighthouse. “Our first priority is to provide child care so that teen parents can get through high school,” says Rachel Bales-Case, director of Lighthouse. Sophia and most of her 20 classmates at Lighthouse receive care at a reduced rate. Lighthouse serves not only children whose parents are students, but also a number of children whose parents work at low-wage jobs.
One of the funding sources of Lighthouse is the Pentecost Offering that First Presbyterian receives each year. This Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) church-wide offering serves youth, young adults, and at-risk children. Forty percent of the offering is retained by congregations for local causes, while 60 percent is sent to the national church for Young Adult Volunteers, ministries with youth, and work on behalf of children at risk.
Thanks in part to the generosity of First Presbyterian and other local supporters, the future looks bright for Sophia and Lily. Sophia is now four and is flourishing in the preschool curriculum that Lighthouse teaches. Lily is enrolled in college and hopes to be a teacher when she graduates. She works at her old high school as an assistant for special-needs students and has two other part-time jobs. She is also a board member at Lighthouse.
Without Lighthouse, finishing high school would have been challenging for Lily, and college would probably have been unthinkable. She is grateful for the opportunities she has received and for Sophia’s safe and nurturing place to stay during the day. “You know and trust the people there at the church,” she says.
John Lersch, pastor of First Presbyterian, considers Lighthouse a ministry of the church, and he notes that the congregation’s support of Lighthouse, which started in 2008, is indicative of its concern for others.
“In this church, the people have good hearts,” John shares. “It is not just about ourselves. It’s about others. That is the sign of a healthy church.”
First Presbyterian’s Pentecost Offering is another example of its good-heartedness. Through the offering, the church helps youth, young adults, and at-risk children in its own community and also reaches out across the country through ministries of the national church that serve children, youth, and young adults.
Let Us Pray
Caring God, we pray for teen mothers and for their children.
Grant them lives filled with hope and promise.
Help us to reach out to them and extend the embrace of your loving arms. Amen.