Shelby Park Ministry Begins Anew for the Year

SP FriendsHighland’s weekly ministry in our nearby Shelby Park neighborhood begins on Tuesday, September 2, fresh with new approaches to ministry and full of excitement for this work of Love in our own backyard. While you may have heard about our work in Shelby Park, please take a moment to read about our changes for this school year and listen closely for the possibility that you are being called to serve in this way!

Shelby Park: An Overview

In January 2011, a group of young adults in Highland’s young adult ministry set out to dream, vision, pray, and listen for God’s calling into the urban corners of our city. Months of discernment led to a communal calling to our neighboring Shelby Park neighborhood, just a mile from our church. Since then, members of Highland have been present with 30-40 kids at the Shelby Park Community Center each week, leading with tutoring, activities, and dinner and building lasting friendships with our neighbors down the street.

Our new Community Missions Ministry Group has now taken on the task of overseeing all of Highland’s work in Shelby Park. Right now this ministry sees its most regular engagement with kids, but our calling to the whole neighborhood continues to call the church in new ways.

Major Changes for 2013-2014 and How YOU Can Serve!SP Games

One of our biggest noticeable changes for the new year is that our weekly activities at the Shelby Park Community Center will occur on Tuesday nights instead of Mondays. Detailed changes in each area of our work are listed below. Read on! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer of any kind or have any questions, please email Emily ( or Allison Keenan ( or sign up on the bulletin board outside the church office!

SP TutoringTutoring (Mondays and Tuesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m.)

Each Monday and Tuesday, a group of tutors gather with a group of 7-15 elementary-age students to spend time offering homework help at the Shelby Park Community Center. Tutor mentors offer snacks, listening ears, and a space for kids to learn, explore, read, and be challenged with their minds. Mike McFall and Nancy Goodhue continue coordinating this aspect of Highland’s ministry in Shelby Park.

 The Basics of Life (Tuesdays, 5:45-6:05 p.m.)

A new endeavor of our work in Shelby Park this year will be “The Basics of Life.” A brief, 20-minute time each week, this time will designated to explore things that aren’t often taught in school, such as community building, leadership development, social skills, decision making, communication, and conflict management.

We will open the Basics of Life time each week by organizing ourselves for the evening, making a covenant with each kid about his/her behavior and expectations for the evening, and what we all hope to gain from our time together. Our Shelby Park team realized that in the course of our time with the kids, we longed to have more space for life skills, to have the conversations and experiences that help our kids develop the skills they will need for their lifetime as they navigate relationships with others.

We hope this time is meaningful and life-giving for all!

Tuesday Night Clubs (Tuesdays, 6:10-6:45 p.m.)SP Clubs           

When HBC’s partnership with the Shelby Park Community Center resumes in the Fall, the Shelby Park Leadership Team will be implementing a new approach to programming : Club Time.

During this time we will divide the kids into small groups (5 or fewer children per group) and have them participate in an activity selected by a volunteer from Highland. These activities could range from an art or science activity to learning a new board game, participating in a book club, learning a bit of a foreign language or learning how to juggle or even play tennis. HBC members will be asked to make a 2- or 3-night commitment to come share their particular passion with the kids at the SPCC.

Our goals with this time are numerous. We want volunteers and children to have a chance to connect in an intimate and structured setting. We aim to create a space where the kids feel sense of self-efficacy and feel known. We want to give the kids an opportunity to find a role model or a new interest.

Some might say that this time is just fun and games and not what these kids need. They might say a hungry child needs a meal, or a child who struggles with reading needs help with reading. While the former is true, we would name that this new “Club” time is quite critical.  The kids need to know that they have their own unique talents. Children, like all of us need a vehicle to disengage from stresses and struggles. They need practice expressing their anger, sadness and excitement in productive ways..

The Shelby Park Team hopes that that you will feel led to come share your passions with the kids in Shelby Park.

SP DinnersFellowship Meal (Tuesdays, 6:50-7:15 p.m.)

To end our night together, members of Highland share a meal with the kids and volunteers at the community center. One of the most foundational of all our Christian experiences, this table fellowship looks like the kingdom of God each week! This shared meal provides the community with a tangible way to be filled with God’s love that we seek to extend each week. Many of our kids have tenuous situations at home due to the systems of poverty and challenge that their families face. This meal is a way to carry out our commandment from Jesus, “when I was hungry, you gave me food.” For truly we are feeding no less than Jesus himself!

Members from various groups at Highland have taken to this service opportunity with gusto! Bible Study classes, age-graded groups, leadership bodies, and ministry groups have chosen one week a year (or even one week a month!) to provide the meal. Detailed instructions on what to prepare, where/when to arrive, and our meal protocol will be shared with group coordinators. If you’d like for your group to serve in this way, contact Emily!