Shelby Park Ministry Begins Anew for the Year

Highland’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 Tuesdays 1Shelby 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 thirty-forty 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.

Highland’s 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. We’ve worked hard to establish creative partnerships with Riverview Missionary Baptist Church and Sojourn Community Church to ensure that the kids we see each week at the SPCC receive the most consistent, intentional, and meaningful engagement with volunteers each week.

Read on for more details on how YOU can engage in this transformative work of love! 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!

Tutoring (Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m.)Shelby Park Tuesdays 2

Each Monday and Tuesday, a group of tutors gather with a group of 12-17 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. Contact Mike ( if you’re interested in tutoring!

Community Time (Tuesdays, 5:45-6:00 p.m.)

We continue this year beginning our Tuesday nights with a brief, 15-minute time each week for community building and leadership development.  This time will be designated to explore things that aren’t often taught in school, such as social skills, decision making, communication, conflict management, and group games.

IMG_6092We will open Community Time each week by organizing ourselves for the evening, making a covenant with each kid about their behavior and expectations for the evening, and what we all hope to gain from our time together. We hope this time is meaningful and life-giving for all! If you’re interested in helping to lead Community Time, contact Emily Hull McGee (

Tuesday Night Clubs (Tuesdays, 6:00-6:40 p.m.)

Club Time began last year with huge excitement for the countless ways to engage our kids with new activities and forms of creative expression. During this time, kids are divided into small groups (5 or fewer per group) and then 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. Highland members are 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.IMG_0115

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 “Club” time is quite critical. 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 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. If you’re interested in sharing a skill or interest with the kids of SPCC, contact Melissa Bezuska ( or Allison Keenan (

Fellowship Meal (Tuesdays, 6:45-7:15 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!

Shelby Park Tuesdays 5This year will see a change in our meal planning on Tuesday nights. Dare to Care Food Bank has begun providing a weeknight hot meal to kids under the age of 18, free of charge to the community, thus alleviating our need to bring food for our Shelby Park community. Even though our focus will now shift away from providing the meal, we will still need for groups to come to serve the food, bring a dessert, and dine with the kids, in order that relationships might be strengthened in the breaking of bread together. If your group is interested in serving this way, contact Emily (