Community Development | Arise2Read


Grace Fellowship Church is one of those churches that TRULY invests and engages in their community…and beyond. Lawrenceville Elementary is one of the schools that Grace decided to invest in by starting a Good News Club about 6 years ago. I met one of my favorite community leaders, Denise Cox, over a hot breakfast at a local restaurant to hear about the club. Within minutes I knew I wanted to be involved. Two years later I am still hooked on the high of being with these kids every week as we share the Gospel with them. Most of them will never step foot in a church if the statistics and predictions are true, so I consider it a joy to see the body of Christ coming and serving each week in this school.

“What would our community look like if we created a place to belong before you believed? - Adam Hilderbrandt, Senior Pastor at Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church

“What would our community look like if we created a place to belong before you believed? - Adam Hilderbrandt, Senior Pastor at Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church

One of the principles I learned a long time ago was to do ministry in a wholistic way and I have been so fortunate to see churches “ministering” in this way and to have been a member of a phenomenal church, not perfect, yet phenomenal because of the way they love their community in a way that meets physical, emotional, and intellectual needs while pointing them to Christ. So many churches only see the spiritual side and forget the other present obstacles that contribute to spiritual indifference. We are doing our best to love the whole child and that means also finding ways to invest in our community and love our neighbors while meeting educational needs. Enter Arise2Read….

On a trip, muggy, oh so very muggy, to Orlando 2 years ago I was first introduced to Arise2Read as founder, Donna Gaines, tells the story in a breakout session on community engagement. She explains the condition of her county and state as she recalls the intense and overwhelming sense to do something. So, she starts Arise2Read, click here for the full story. At the same time, a woman from the church I was on staff with, had started a book ministry that gave away 12 books to every child in 4 elementary schools. I will do the math for you and let you know that it was over 30,000 books to help reduce the summer slide. All the puzzle pieces were there, but how did they connect? Well, two years later we see how God was orchestrating it all and in ways no one could have organized as Arise2Read will become a part of the Good News Club at Lawrenceville Elementary School.

We will launch Arise2Read as a part of the Good News Club at LES in the coming weeks. For 30 minutes the team will tutor kids as they learn their Fry sight words and prayerfully increase their reading comprehension. We have 5-6 students from the local high school who are going after school to help with the tutoring. In 2 months these same kids will get 12 free books that are provided thru the book ministry. Many months are spent organizing and sorting thousands of books, students are giving up their time to invest in these children, and retirees are sitting down to love and disciple kids every week. This is community development at its best; businesses donating books to meet local education needs, nonprofits donating money and resources to other nonprofits, churches sponsoring clubs, residents sorting books, church members making snack bags, and educators spending extra time and money all in the name of community investment. What we see is a collaborative investment leading to a collective impact. Win win situation. As the community invests in the day to day our city is being developed into a thriving place with thriving people. We see that when the *6 sectors of a city come together for the city there is an ability for a community to solve their own problems by locating assets they never knew existed.

*Click here to learn more about the 6 sectors.

Jen Young