(By Rich Brown, The Carthage Press, Missouri). Of the 19 Evangelical Presbyterian Churches in Missouri, the one closest to Carthage has found a children’s outreach that churches of many other denominations might admire.
New Creation Church of Joplin is in its third year of reaching out to children in elementary schools through a popular program called KidsQuest.
The program got underway five years ago as a missions outreach to children living near the church at 1831 S. Connor Ave. Then, in 2013, NCC partnered with local schools for a program that has seen much success..
When the final bell rings each Tuesday and Thursday at Joplin elementary schools, New Creation vans go into action. Volunteers visit nearly every Joplin school to pick up about 60 children a day and shuttle them to the church where they get help with their school work through volunteer tutors, as well as participate in crafts and Bible study.
Parents pick their children up at 5:30 p.m. at the church, which serves the youngsters dinner before they head home.
The entire KidsQuest program, including the meal, is free.
About 15 volunteers from Missouri Southern State University and Ozark Christian College are responsible for running the program, said Steven Rice, director of Joplin Promise, a mission arm of NCC that oversees KidsQuest.
“We really strive for the kids to find their natural gifts and talents,” said Rice, a graduate of OCC. “There are some kids who flourish in crafts and there are some kids who come because of tutoring, and they really need that extra help.”
Immediately after arriving at the church, the children have a snack and take time to socialize before getting involved in crafts, tutoring or studying the Bible.
In addition, every week fourth and fifth graders take what Rice calls life envisioning trips to local Christian-led businesses and organizations.