A Place to Worship: "Burmese Refugee Community finds a church to call HOME"
It wasn't their first time looking for a home. Most of the Burmese refugees had fled their country of Myanmar with little more than they could carry on their backs. Finding refuge in Knoxville, sharing language and culture, they sought each other out and began meeting to worship in one another's modest living rooms. Though a local church opened their doors to the growing group, after one year they were unable to continue to lend space to the now 70+ adults. The community leaders began to ask their American friends if they knew another place they could gather to worship.
Meanwhile, Washington Pike United Methodist Church was praying for God to use them and their facilities to bless their community. Pastor Pat Polis made known the church's desire to serve and help meet the needs of their neighborhood.
So it was in April, 2013 that the Burmese leaders' prayer request was made known to a member of KIN who, through the network, made a 'Kinnection' with Pastor Pat Polis. After he met with the Burmese community leaders, his church unanimously welcomed the 70+ member Burmese fellowhip to begin meeting at WPUM. Both congregations have been blessed, as well as others in the Knoxville Internationals Network who saw the connection happen.
"This is what KIN is for," stated a KIN member, "to make connections for ministry to internationals! Sometimes, all it takes is a simple conversation and the Lord sets amazing things in motion."
In The News
For three years, Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church has hosted a successful summer ESL camp for refugee children, but thanks to their involvement with KIN, this fourth year of camp was markedly different!
Collaborating with four other churches in the KIN network, Cedar Springs’ volunteer pool, transportation accommodations for attenders, and various other resources were multiplied exponentially. Together, the summer camp was expanded to two locations instead of one, able to provide transporation from their homes to the camp site three days a week, and as a bonus, to implement outreach efforts extending into the school year to meet the ESL and academic tutoring needs of the children who attended.
Get KINnected via the form above to explore collaborative outreach opportunities in your neighborhood.
Local Church Partners with Bridge Refugee Services to Host Adult ESL Classes
4th Annual Refugee Youth Summer Camp becomes a Community Collaborative
Closure of 11 English Language Learning (ELL) Classes
The Body of Christ Steps in to Fill the Gap
In May 2013, Pellissippi State Community College announced it did not receive government funding for the 2013-14 academic calendar year for its ELL classes.
With many students now lacking local opportunities for English learning, the Body of Christ stepped in to fill the gap and meet the need by training more teachers and expanding their programs.
In August 2013, West Park Baptist Church hosted 30 adults from six area churches and five different faith denominations for an eleven-hour training. The training taught participants methods and techniques to increase their effectiveness in helping our international friends in Knoxville improve their English language skills.
Six Churches / Five Denominations Successfully Complete the KIN Missional Ministry and Leadership Training
In September, 2013, members of six Knoxville churches, from five different denominations, completed the KIN missional ministry and leadership training, hosted by First Baptist Concord and Cedar Springs Presbyterian churches.
The missional training included learning how to complete ethnography studies for the purpose of developing contextual ministries to effectively communicate and build relationship with specific people groups living in Knoxville. While the leadership training workshops empowered ministry teams to evaluate and establish their mission and vision statements, define their objectives, plan their initiatives, and best evaluate the effectivenss of their ministry outreach to internationals.
The training workshops were recorded and are available to help equip you and/or your church reach internationals in your community.
In 2012, Bridge Refugee Services (Bridge) made known their need for alternative meeting space to host their ESL classes for newly arrived refugees in Knoxville. Families were being resettled in the Washington Pike/ Norwood area, nearly two and half hours away by bus from their current location. Refugee parents were finding it increasingly difficult to attend the required ESL classes and return home in time to welcome their children from school.
In January 2013, Washington Pike United Methodist Church was identified, through a KIN connection, as an ideal location to host Bridge's ESL classes. Physically, the church was centrally located to many of the apartment complexes where refugee families were starting their new lives. Spiritually and socially, Pastor Polis and WPUMC congregation welcomed the refugees' children into their Parents' Day Out program so they could rest easy knowing their children were being cared for while they focused on learning English. Additionally, the church gave Bridge full access to their commercial kitchen to teach cooking classes.
Pastor Pat Polis was thrilled with the connection, “Our church was looking for a way to minister to our community and this is the perfect fit for us to be able to do that.”
Want to learn more about how you and/or your church welcome your international neighbors, Get KINnected via the email form at the top of this page.