The mission statement of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world.” This mission is the basis of the vision statement for First United Methodist Church of Winter Park (FUMCWP) – “a vibrant family built on God’s grace, who share a passion for the Word of God, living and serving in the image of Jesus the Christ.” Together, this mission and vision serve as the launching point for the Christ-like Servant approach to Southstreet Ministry (now known as Foundry).
Why the name Foundry? The Foundry was the hub of the early Methodist movement. In addition to worship, The Foundry was a place where free school, medical care, and housing was made available to neighborhood children, orphans and single mothers. There was a spirit of social entrepreneurship among Wesley and these early Methodists. Problems in their city were opportunities to demonstrate the powerful and constantly available transforming grace of Jesus Christ. This Christ-like transformation is for individuals as well as communities. The Foundry exists for personal and social transformation. We will do this through service and support of young adults aging out of the foster care system in Orlando. This beautiful history is the inspiration to relaunch Southstreet Ministries as Foundry.
Direction for the Foundry
As a church to tangibly demonstrate what it means to be a Christ-Like Servant requires two components. Firstly, that we are personally committed to Christ, growing in our faith, and seeking opportunities to invite others into a faith journey after Jesus. Secondly, that we are seeking out solutions to problems that our community is facing. We know that it is inadequate to withdraw into our own building, as faith in Christ compels us out into our community and to seek human flourishing for each and every person.
Through the Foundry, our goal is to testify to the coming Kingdom of God by committing ourselves to work of God that brings peace, wholeness, and justice like nothing else. It is our duty as a church of Jesus Christ to seek and serve the “least of these,” because when we do we serve Jesus himself.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, ESV).
Our mission is that by going and serving we fulfill three initiatives: that we grow in our own relationship with God; that those we serve can experience and hear of God’s grace and love for them; and that we demonstrate and invite our community into a faith community by inviting them to serve their city with us.
At the Foundry we have several goals to stem from this ministry:
- Launching a human development program for young adults that have aged out of foster care, particularly those that are also young mothers.
- Inviting this church into service of this venerable community.
- Providing a secure foundation for these young adults and partnering with them to help them achieve their goals and dreams in a Christian framework.
- Help this church be known as creative difference makers that are engaged in Orlando that have made a difference in working to solve our foster care crisis.
We have been busy working to bring this dream into reality. Some of the practical decisions that are being made include evaluating the feasibility of the current property and how best to leverage that asset in support of the program. This includes working with the conference on selling the property. Further, this has inspired the move of our Trinity Christian Academy preschool to Reaves United Methodist Church to ensure their long-term vitality and facility stability.
“Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” 1John 3:17
As the Foundry continues to develop through prayer, research and dedication, the need for young adults aging out of the foster care system are where we feel God is calling us. There is an enormous unmet need in our community for these young people. In Orlando, 15-18 young adults age out of the foster care system each month. Of this population, the statistics are staggering:
- 1 in 5 will be homeless
- 58% will graduate high school (national average is 87%)
- By the age of 24, only half will be employed
- Less than 3% will earn a college degree(national average is 28%)
- 1 in 4 will have been through the criminal justice system within two years of transitioning out
And the last statistic is where we are beginning our ministry: 71% of young women will be pregnant by 21. The foster care system thus often becomes a systematic, multigenerational issue.
Some members of the Foundry board had the privilege of sitting down with 6 of these young women, all have aged out of the foster system and all mothers. It was an opportunity to engage with these bright, and ambitious young ladies that have faced supremely challenging circumstances. They were anxious to share their stories and heartfelt in communicating what their needs are at this point in their lives. They have had struggles that no one should have to encounter, one 21 years old has been in 74 foster placements over 18 years, but they all are determined to make their lives better and do all that they could to ensure their children had a better life. Their dreams were impressive as most of them want to pursue a career that serves others. Two sisters are studying to become nurses, one young 23 lady wants to become a counselor to help troubled boys. She is raising 3 boys of her own.
When asked what they felt their most important need was, they were all in agreement that they yearned for important, supportive relationships with people who care. For someone to call in those “life happens” moments.
We will not be able to solve the problem, but we CAN develop a program to help support these often neglected young people, and develop a network of support for them and their children!
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? if a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17