- Last Updated on Thursday, 30 December 2021 18:20
By Lois Thomson
Darla Holmes is program coordinator for MPACT – Monessen Positive Action Community Team – an afterschool program for Monessen Middle School students that was implemented early in 2021. The program is intended to improve student behavior and academic motivation, but Holmes figured the students needed a little more: so Sunday Fundays have been created at Christian Life Ministries Church in Monessen.
|Faith Jackson, Isabella Grogan and Destiny Porter attended the December ‘Sunday Funday’ as part of Monessen’s MPACT program.|
The idea originated from a Pennsylvania youth survey that identified risk factors for local youth, and one area that needed to increase was religiosity. Holmes agreed. "Our children don't have a connection to their community through faith," she said. "Our young people, and families in general, don't attend church the way we did in the past. The results (of the survey) found they have no attachment to the community through their faith and through the congregation."
Holmes discussed the problem with her husband Robert, pastor at Christian Life Ministries, and Teresa Seh of Communities That Care, and they decided to try to engage the children in what they call "Sunday Fundays."
Held at the church the second Sunday of the month, the program began in November. "We provide transportation and bring them into our fellowship hall. So they're not in a traditional church service, but we wanted to let them know the church was a vital part of their community, where they can come together and fellowship."
At the first Funday in November, Holmes told them this would be a time to have good, healthy fun. "We discussed what did they want to see, what did they want to do. They shared a lot of things, like their struggles, their friends, their families. We're trying to help them navigate through that, to teach those values, because you can touch on (the teachings of Jesus) without really mentioning it. We're having faith-based discussions but not preaching to them."
In December, the kids wanted to watch the movie "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" starring Jim Carrey. Holmes agreed, but said they had to be able to tie it in with something they could learn from the movie. "We talked about it and I said he was kind of bullied because he looked and acted different, so they made fun of him, and that caused him to withdraw. So that's what we watched, and we learned bullying is not good."
The group also enjoyed breakfast from McDonald's, and Holmes said the meal helped teach them how to eat and