Your first encounter at Tuesday Church may be somewhat shocking. Recently, a new staff member joined the group and was utterly shocked by the “bad behavior” on his first visit. His visions of kids sitting quietly and patiently as they listen to the Bible lesson were shattered by hyper-active children talking, whispering and running for the water fountain and potty breaks.Sometimes even those of us who have been here from the beginning wonder how all this commotion came to be. How did we come from a small Bible Study at The Fulton Shelter on Dauphin Street, to over one hundred fifty desperately energized children waiting for their “hard earned” snack to be delivered?It all began with a casual question posed by a young lady in the spring of 1991. “Where were you tonight?” Linda haphazardly asked the friends she happened to meet at Friendly’s Restaurant. As they explained their experience at the Fulton Shelter where a small group of mostly juvenile delinquents are housed until they find a more suitable placement, Linda got very excited. She soon made arrangements to visit the Shelter the next week. Thus began the ministry in Lancaster City.For the next six years a Bible Study was held at the Fulton Shelter. Hundreds of hurting young people were touched and hearts were broken as they shared the pain of broken homes, relationships and hearts. Tears flowed and hearts bled as the young people poured out their stories of grief and bitter loss which many of us could not begin to fathom. But one thing we could do was lead them to the one who “bore our grief’s and carried our sorrows.” It was Jesus that many of the residents came into contact with during the hard times of their lives. Prayer time became a favorite at The Shelter when individual prayer was offered for many who had lost hope for a better future.After a few years of weekly meetings at The Shelter, the director of the organization became impressed with the work which was happening. She then requested that we begin a similar program at the neighboring Boys and Girls Club where many children already congregated after school. The club was a place with a number of programs to meet the needs of local children and keep them off the streets and out of trouble. Since the children were already coming, there was no need to recruit children to attend the meeting.
On April 14 1998 a few staff came together with the vision to go forward in the work but were soon overwhelmed with larger numbers than they could handle. One evening ended up with seventy children and only a hand full of staff. “After that night,” Steve says “I was ready to quit.” But God renewed their courage and the work continued. As the numbers grew, so did the amount of staff.It wasn’t long until the children needed rides home after “Clubs” so the staff started offering rides with the signed permission of the parents. Other children moved to new houses within the city but still wanted to attend Tuesday Church so the staff were mobilized all over the city. Not only did children move, they wanted to bring their friends and join in the weekly “Church” at the Boys and Girls Club. Soon routes were running all over the city to bring in the children to “Tuesday Church”. Tuesday church consisted of singing as we all sat on the hard concrete floor of the small gym. Then groups broke out to read a few Bible stories and spend time in prayer before the snack was served.
As time progressed, problems arose between groups of children at the Club and it became evident that we needed to find another solution. God opened new doors at the Faith United Church of Christ were we met for some time. As the ministry to children grew, other doors of ministry were also opened. In the summer of 2001 we embarked on our first choir tour with seventeen children. Teen Adventures developed from a vision for teens. Summer camp and Bible School have also become a routine during the summer months. And very recently a summer canoe trip for boys was added as a means to reach older boys who have passed the camp age limit. One of the exciting things in the last ten years has been watching God provide for the financial needs which we continue to face. It has been a marvel to watch the hand of God move and meet the needs in miraculous ways. We hope to move on and walk with God in bringing The Good News to the people of Lancaster City.