Christ-Bearing People Pressing On Toward the Goal
Fifth Sunday in Lent: March 17, 2013
A little over a year ago, the Dallas Bethlehem Center (DBC) came to a crossroads in its ability to deliver educational and social services to its constituent community with which it has long been associated. The center experienced a significant lack of support from its financial foundation, caused, in part, by the downturn of the economy.
Prior to this occurrence, the center had established a remarkable legacy in the community as a 66-year-old institution that was recognized for its constant presence, high-quality educational programs for preschool-age children, ability to leverage city and corporate resources on behalf of the community, and modeling of Christian values in the community. All seemed to be lost except for the fortitude, constant vision and persistence of the mere five board members who were left to chart a course for the future of this once vital ministry. Although the center experienced financial bankruptcy and a disruption of services, there was no bankruptcy of the spiritual fiber of this group.
Through the power of prayer and discernment sought from God, it was decided that the center would not close. Instead, the decision was made to enter into a mode of “suspended operations.” It was felt that this period would provide the board the opportunity to regroup and ultimately reorganize.
During this time, in-depth research was conducted (which included community input) to determine what/where God’s mission for this center would lead to. The board immersed its efforts in analyzing data, interviewing community constituents, polling other community establishments and gathering information from the city regarding future plans for this community. The results yielded a resounding affirmation of the need for continued educational and social interventions for this still-vulnerable community.
Giving thanks to God for the unwavering spirit and efforts of diligent board members, we were connected with professional fundraising strategists through resources from United Methodist Women. From this association, a new strategic plan was crafted, focusing on a new service delivery model, and we have reached out to our community, resulting in the addition of a new board president and 12 board members.
From this reorganization, we now forecast a re-launch of services with six new partnering agencies that include a professional early childhood education provider; an organized community mentoring program; a police department youth program; church-affiliated workforce programs offering ESL, GED and computer literacy programs; a Boy Scouts of America club; and a community garden program.
Our work is laid out before us. We are indeed grateful for the restorative powers of our Almighty God that are at work in the Dallas community on behalf of DBC. I am convinced that as God perfects us, we will continue to move forward in a productive manner, doing good works that will sustain the mission and ministry of the Dallas Bethlehem Center and the community it serves.
Prayer: Holy, gracious God, help us always to seek your will and to listen for your voice. Teach us to trust you always. May we not lose sight of the hope you have called us to. AMEN.
Ruth E. Robinson, Vice President of Programs, Board of Directors, Dallas Bethlehem Center.