Community Highlight:

February 20th, 2018

A Community With Hope

Last month, I had the privilege to attend the Titus II Woman Lunch & Learn at the Beth. This luncheon is a part of our Community Connection initiative which provides monthly events for adult residents in Alton Park. The luncheon was about how to find our true identity in Christ.  I came to take photos for Marketing but was pulled into the message with everyone else.

 Pastor Connie from Rivers of Living Water Christian Center shared what it means to be a whole person. She explained that we don’t need another person to be complete. She went on to say that “If God has created you and already defined you, why are you looking for others to tell you who you are?” Her words resonated with all of us. One elderly lady shared that the Lord gave her the courage to go back to school and get her GED when she was fifty years old. Despite her insecurities and negative remarks from others,  she accomplished her goal. She believed that God was on her side and would provide.

I thought about how often I believe that God can do something for someone else but not for me. It can be easy to fall into hopelessness when it comes to our own situations. It’s also easy to try to find our identity in other people or things. Pastor Connie reminded us that it’s important to remember that our true worth is in Christ, not in what we have or in the opinions of others.

After hearing so many stories, it was clear that this lovely group of individuals did not take their faith lightly. I was encouraged by their stories and how they hold onto their hope in God. Many of you may be familiar with the financial and transportation struggles of the Alton Park residents, but I think a lot of you would be amazed to hear how truly hopeful they are. They have not let their circumstances dim their faith. They persevere despite their setbacks. It is a privilege to work for a nonprofit that strives to help empower this community through spiritual and educational development. 

Shari J. Watson

Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing and is currently the Marketing Assistant at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can. 

Posted by The Beth | Topic: Community

Community Highlight:

January 29th, 2018

   A Meeting For Change

  Throughout my time as an intern at the Bethlehem Center, many exciting things have happened! Each week is different than the last. Fortunately, I have been able to be a part of the beginning of the South Chattanooga Community Resource Project: a project that will benefit the community long after my time at the Beth ends.The idea for this project started as a simple meeting about finding and connecting food resources in the area with Karen Nichols, a Life Coach from Partnership For Families, Children, and Adults who serves Alton Park through the Beth. PFCA and the Beth recently started a food pantry after realizing the need surrounding our area. 

  The purpose of the meeting was to create a map of the food resources in the South Chattanooga area and to let the community know where these food resources can be found. Within our area, there are a few different agencies, churches, and nonprofits that have a food pantry or provide food boxes and vouchers. Likewise, we assumed that there were other food resources in the area that we didn’t know about. It was decided that the Bethlehem Center, in partnership with PFCA, BSL, and Karen, would host a meeting inviting community food resources to share information on their services and help us fill food services gaps in South Chattanooga. 

   Once the date was set and the event was made public, the word of this meeting spread farther than imagined. RSVPs came in from insurance agencies, city officials, churches, etc. Many that were interested in attending this meeting didn't have food support as a service but rather a wide variety of other services that would benefit our area if residents were aware of them. With so much interest in this meeting, the goal became to include every known resource in South Chattanooga, identifying resources and gaps in service.    

   On January 23rd the meeting took place at the Bethlehem Center. For an initial event, the turnout was awesome! The Chattanooga Food Bank, Metropolitan Ministries, YMCA, PFCA, Chattanooga Housing Authority, the City of Chattanooga, Signal Center, Alexian Brothers PACE, Westside Baptist Church, St Elmo U.M.C., and other agencies sent representatives to the meeting. Participants discussed resources, knowledge of resources, and brainstormed better ways to serve residents. This project has grown tremendously in the past few months and will only continue to grow in the months to come. I am very excited to see its outcome and I’m glad that I could be a small part of it! 

Morgan Reeves

Morgan is a senior at UTC planning to graduate with a degree in social work. She is currently the social work intern at the Bethlehem Center and loves getting to know youth in the Alton Park community. In her free time she enjoys antique shopping, hanging with friends, and playing volleyball.

Posted by The Beth

Read to Lead Highlight:

December 14th, 2017

The View from the Choir Director’s Podium

My name is Jennifer, and I work as the Development Assistant here at the Bethlehem Center.  Years ago I taught choir and music classes in the public school system so I was excited to be asked to also serve as the music teacher and choir director for the Read to Lead Academy. 

 We launched our music classes in September for grades K-5 and held auditions for choir for grades K-8.  The kids and I sang and danced our way through some upbeat Praise & Worship songs, and the 12 member choir worked on learning some more vocally challenging pieces.

The students seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I knew I didn’t have their full attention.  The Christmas season was approaching, and I made it my mission to find some songs that would be irresistible.  The songs had to be energetic and engaging.  The first week of November when I introduced “Hip Hop Reindeer” and “Jingle Jive” the children immediately responded to the peppy holiday music.  

We wiggled and giggled and jammed and jingled. The shy and reluctant singers found themselves drawn into the festive sounds of the music tracks. They laughed at their silly teacher as I danced right along with them.

While preparing for our performance at the Tri-Octaves Christmas Concert at Christ UMC, the students enjoyed the holiday songs so much that I had more and more requests from them asking, “Can I please join the choir, Miss Jennifer?”  Previously hesitant or distracted singers were suddenly excited for our Thursday sessions and found joy in being part of a “team”.  

By the time the concert weekend arrived, we had 28 choir members!  We performed 4 songs, including a lovely old carol titled “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow”, accompanied on piano by our very own Miss Shari from the Marketing Department. The boys’ trio on the second verse sounded simply angelic. The choir’s favorite number was the gospel song “Christmas Jubilation”. The kids sang with excitement, and the addition of a girls’ trio upped the cute factor considerably. As I looked at these precious children, ranging from 1st grade through 7th grade, I could not have been more proud. They looked adorable in their Santa hats, but their shining faces really told the story. Their joy-filled music still rings in my ears!

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer joined the staff at the Bethlehem Center in February 2017 as a Read to Lead teacher.  In August, she transitioned into the Development Department as the Development and Projects Assistant.  Jennifer also serves as the Praise & Worship Leader at Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene, where her husband, Eric,  serves as Senior Pastor.  They have 3 wonderful children and too many pets.

Posted by The Beth

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