Refugee Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Trenton
by Rev. Elizabeth B. Congdon
Forty (40) completed the ESL and Tutoring school year. Eighteen were enrolled in the Monday adult class with an average attendance of nine (9) and a range of four (4) to eighteen (18). Twenty-two (22) were enrolled in the Saturday ESL and tutoring classes. Average attendance was twelve (12) with a range of five (5) to seventeen (17). The training, consultation and curriculum expertise of Dr. Lois Spitzer were much appreciated. Grant support from the ABCNJ, Hamilton Square Baptist Church, and the ABCUSA Mission Fund enabled us to initiate and sustain this ministry. Many thanks to coordinators Mary Mild and Elisabeth Kang and (Monday) teachers Eileen Kelty, Brian Daly, Rev. Dawn Mays, Pat and John Foltz, Barbara Moran, Brian Daly and Jane Chianese, as well as Saturday teachers and tutors Andrew Kang, Mary Fink, Jesse Nietzer, Breanna and Evan Bever, Nancy Cox, Jessica O’Neill, and Rev. Dr. Bill Webb.
The youth have been involved in community outreach organized by the Rev. C. Nadir Powell and led by the Rev. James Kang. These have involved Trenton street clean-up, work camp painting the interior of one building, as well as marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade along with CareTrenton.Org.
During Spring break this year our youth went on retreat and spent three days talking about “Our Identity in Christ.” Twenty-seven (27) youth attended! The retreat was led by the Rev. James Kang and given in three languages thanks to the Karen and Karenni pastors, translators and lay leaders. I was there for the first day. It was one very special time. We were all blessed. The Saturday after ESL and tutoring were completed the youth celebrated with a hike up a mountain in the Delaware water gap. Twenty-four (24) climbed the mountain, Seminarian Jesse Nietzer among them.
Last summer we were able to send twenty-two (22) children and youth to a week at the Baptist Camp in Lebanon, New Jersey thanks to the ABHMS Burma Task Force and Children in Poverty (CIP) grants along with scholarship support from the Capital Association and many individual gifts. Many make decisions for Christ at camp. For many it was one extraordinary experience away from Trenton. This year twenty-four (24) would like to attend. We have been blessed with the ABCNJ Friends Camperships, ABHMS CIP grants, and the Capital Association scholarship.
Last summer, fifty-six (56) came to our Vacation Bible Camp and learned of God’s love. We are preparing for two sessions for our children and youth this summer with one week in June with the Next Gen Church and another in August with Central Church of Ewing.
Several of our children and youth have been learning and practicing and on Mother’s day we initiated our Praise Dance Ministry. The girls have named themselves the “Angels of God.” They ministered again on Father’s Day.
This year we have been able to offer plots in the STARS (South Trenton Area Residents Society) community garden. Eleven of our families can now garden.
Your faithfulness and generosity to us are very much appreciated as we continue to minister in Trenton.