We hope everyone has learned more over the past month about how we are expanding and deepening our commitment to the community in our support of our affiliated ministry partners through 2nd Mile: Binghampton. Through this campaign, Cornerstone Prep, The Carpenter Art Garden & the BDC, and SOS will be provided with the needed support to fulfill their mission in specific ways:
- For Cornerstone Prep, it is providing the funding for their Pre-K program to continue.
- For The Carpenter Art Garden, it is providing furnishings and some part-time employees to work at the new Purple House, being built by the BDC’s Jobs Training Program.
- And for SOS, it is providing an intern to lead the new SOS Builds program, which will gradually draw kids from the community into the work of SOS as campers, interns, and then staff so that the quality of life in Binghampton can be changed from the inside-out.
Having focused for the past several weeks on learning about each of these projects, we will now hear from members who have been serving at these ministries. They will be sharing with us their stories of how they came to be involved, and they will tell us why these ministries are so valuable.
This Sunday, we will hear from Christ Church members Jennifer Parris and Frank Castell, who have both given of their time to serve at Cornerstone Prep.
Testimony from Jennifer Parris
Several years ago my husband, Lucas, and I felt a call to be more intentional about living and serving in Memphis. If we’re going to live here long term, we thought, we want to invest in this city — with our our time and finances.
We met with CUMC’s missions staff to learn about organizations and opportunities connected to our church. Our hearts broke as we heard about educational injustices in our community. We didn’t grow up in Memphis. We both went to public schools that prepared us well for college and life after, so the statistics about Memphis were shocking.
There are more low performing schools in Memphis than anywhere else in the state. Very few students who graduate from Memphis public schools are prepared for college.
Lucas and I are not called to be educators, but we can support those doing the work in our city’s classrooms. We chose to be part of the amazing transformation that’s happening at Cornerstone Prep.
Over the last four years, we’ve served breakfast, made copies for teachers, organized work days and playground clean ups with our friends, and given financially to the school. We pray for the kids and school staff we encounter.
Students at Cornerstone are making great strides – and it’s been amazing to see how God is using so many people to change the future for children living in Binghampton. We feel so blessed to be a part of this kingdom work.
Now, government funding for Pre-K has been reduced at Cornerstone Prep. Research points to this year in school as being key. Those who attend Pre-K are better prepared for kindergarten — and even more likely to graduate high school and attend college.
We all have the opportunity to ensure that Pre-K is part of the educational experience at Cornerstone Prep. If together we can raise $115,000, a donor will match $100,000 to fully meet the need for Pre-K at Cornerstone.
Education can change the course of a child’s life and a community – it means hope. We hope you’ll join us in giving hope to kids in our community.
Testimony from Frank Cantrell
At some point, about 15 years ago, Christ put it on my heart that it would be a shame to live my life in Memphis and not have some part in racial healing. And, I have always been moved by the passages in the Bible where Christ teaches us to serve our neighbor.
I grew up in a family where education was a given. It was not whether we would go to college, it was only where would we go. And, while we were not wealthy, I always knew that wherever I chose to go to college or graduate school, my parents would find a way to make that happen. Having an education has allowed me to earn a good living.
When I heard about Cornerstone, it was exciting to me because it was a chance to help provide for my neighbor an education that I would consider good enough for my own child. My neighbor deserves no less. And, it would serve racial healing in Memphis.
So, I asked my Sunday School class to pray that God would use me at Cornerstone. I went to the first opening day and helped greet the kids as they came into school. As we stood there, I heard Robert Montague say, “We either get this right or we spend another generation scratching our heads about what we can do.” That stuck with me.
When I heard that they had opportunities to serve breakfast, I knew it was perfect for me. I could go in on a Friday morning at 7, be done by 8, and actually be early for work. I signed up. That is where I met Jennifer and Lucas, because Jennifer had signed up for Friday mornings, too.
And when I saw how Mrs. Settle, Mr. Sippel, and the teachers work with those kids, I knew they had it right. I know that God forms us in accordance with the tasks he has for us. Never have I seen that as evident as when I watch Mrs. Settle show the perfect balance of firmness and love. She is a gift for those children.
In addition to serving breakfast, other opportunities came up, like getting the classrooms ready for a new year. Jennifer and Lucas would let my wife and me know about those and we would pitch in. And, if I had a little extra money, I would donate it. I invite you to do the same.