Westwood United Methodist Church
Breakthrough Goal Report: Intentional Faith Development
The people of Westwood United Methodist Church greet you with grace, peace, and great anticipation of what God desires to do through all of us in the coming years. This last year has been amazing at Westwood United Methodist Church as God has led us in to new ministries that spoke to immediate needs that we have here on the west side of Cincinnati. We are set in a quickly urbanizing area of Cincinnati that at one time was a predominately affluent part of town and recognizing this change prompted the leadership of our church to focus our efforts to the needs of our surrounding community. Through prayer and a visit to a church in Pittsburgh we have set a course that will last into the years. This process began by prayerfully deciding the areas of needs existing most in our neighborhood. The need for a safe place for youth and children providing constant love and attention coupled with the need to help create an atmosphere inductive for discussion faith and life in a comfortable and different environment than a worship service.
Almost every day after school from 2:30pm to 5:00pm we host 25-50 children and youth from the neighborhood school to play basketball, hang out, and work on homework under the watchful eye of Early Murden who is known by the youth as Mr. Early. Coming each checks in with him about their grades and their day. Our goal has to been to help each of these youth know they can do better and we can help with tutors, some food, a safe place where the presence of drugs and bad behavior is not allowed. It is a fun time around the gym when the kids make a jump from a low grade to a higher grace and come show Mr. Early their report cards.
Due to the success of this ministry we have been in conversation with other organizations in the community to provide an after school expectation and atmosphere Westwood School. Being in partnership with the school through financial support, teacher encouragement and tutors has opened the door but the biggest asset to this ministry has been one man – Mr. Early and those volunteers who have found a niche.
Our second ministry was motivated by a calling and need to reach “the lost generation,” those young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who have left the church for a variety of reasons. Through Lifetree Café, a Group Publishing program, we are beginning to reach the adults of the neighborhood through coffee and conversation. For some attendees, “Monday is the best night of the week.” On a given Monday, you will find a variety of people. There is the retired seamstress with a wonderful laugh who moved into the neighborhood and wanted to make new friends. There is the man who struggles with alcoholism but is there to help with set-up on a regular basis. There is the young veteran, recently returned from Afghanistan who is coping with PTSD and taking small steps toward being a part of the community. Each of these is welcome and experience Christ on a weekly basis. We are still striving to reach more of “the lost generation” and pray to see an increase in the next year.