Springs Community Church in Colorado encourages and supports single moms. Here’s how …
“Being a single mother is a unique battle that many people don’t understand or know how to support,” says Tricia. “Having this single mom ‘family’ allows me to not worry about needed love from other humans while raising my little one.”
That single mom “family” is Women of Grace, an outreach for single mothers at Springs Community Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. One Saturday morning a month, dozens of single mothers gather at the church for a program specifically designed for their needs.
When they first arrive, the women drop off their kids with child care volunteers and then have the opportunity to receive items from “share tables” containing gently used clothing and household goods. After socializing with other mothers over breakfast, the main program begins, including a devotional, prayer time and a guest speaker. There’s also time to celebrate birthdays with small gifts, and even a raffle.
Volunteer coordinator Rebecca Meyer says that the mission of Women of Grace is to provide “a safe place where single moms can come together for support, encouragement and growing in Christ with a sense of hope for the future.” Women of Grace does this in extremely practical ways, from giving mothers a chance to bond with other women who are single parenting, to the “share tables” and, after the program, the commodities they offer the women—toilet paper, garbage bags, laundry detergent and other necessities one cannot purchase with food stamps.
“I appreciate the commodities more than anyone can know,” says one Women of Grace participant. “I work three jobs to make ends meet and it’s one small thing I don’t have to worry about.”
Most of all, though, Women of Grace offers single mothers a place to belong, to worship and to be spiritually nourished. “The majority of the women are not members of our church,” says Meyer, “but Women of Grace is their church.”
Every community has single mothers who need encouragement, support and often, practical assistance. Here are some tips to get your church started launching an outreach to single mothers:
First, do your homework. What do the single mothers in your community need most? Commodities like they receive at Women of Grace? Car or home repairs? Tutoring help for their children? Connect with single mothers in your congregation and with social services in your community to better understand the demographic you are serving.
Gather a dedicated team of volunteers. Meyer describes the burnout some volunteers experienced last year because only a few were running the entire ministry. However, at a missions fair at church they learned to reframe their “ask” to volunteers. “Many people are afraid to say yes because they don’t feel equipped,” says Meyer. But when they asked for a two-hour commitment once a month doing something like greeting moms or taking care of babies, Meyer says, “The answer was a resounding ‘I can do that.’”
Make sure the ministry is supported by the pastor and church leadership. Meyer says that includes funding or making the outreach a budget line item. To serve 30 to 40 women regularly, the Women of Grace budget is around $6,000 a year.
Think about some special ways to honor and support your single moms besides the regular monthly program. Women of Grace hosts a Christmas party, a Mother’s Day tea and a summer pool party.
Extend the invitation. Meyer has found the best way to recruit women is by personally inviting them, and then in turn, participating mothers inviting other single moms. Also, connect with smaller, less-resourced churches in your area and invite the single mothers in their congregations.
SPRINGS COMMUNITY CHURCH
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Senior Pastor: Eric Carpenter
Affiliation: Reformed Church of America