Baptist organizations have been providing care for widows and orphans for over 100 years, adhering to the biblical mandate of James 1:27. On September 9 – 11, 2018, STCH Ministries participated in the Connections Conference, the annual meeting of the Association of Baptist Children’s Home Professionals, which brings together organizations from across the country to collaborate on development and communications topics. This year’s conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Southern Baptists have long held their commitment to cooperation and enduring strength of the denomination, with like-minded entities working together for the purpose of bringing people into relationship with God. STCH Ministries and twenty other Baptist Children’s Homes across the nation collaborate through the Baptist Coalition of Children and Families (BCCF), and the Connections Conference is made up of the development and communications professionals of these children’s homes.
Rod Marshall, BCCF President, underlined the cooperative commitment in his address to the gathering. “We work closely with the North American Mission Board, the Women’s Missionary Union, and Baptist Press to address the needs of families in the United States. Baptist child care providers have been the best in child care for over 150 years.”
Throughout the weekend, the theme of “Staying Connected” was intentionally implemented in each aspect of the conference. Through general meetings, breakout sessions, meal times, and special events, participants were encouraged to share with one another on a variety of topics. STCH Ministries staff members were among the speakers at the conference, presenting about compelling storytelling and working with contractors.
Raymond J. Gary Jr., CEO of iDonate, spoke extensively about the mindset and motivations of American charitable donors. “Today’s donors are empowered consumers who expect their experience to be a dynamic, simple, joyful experience. We need to be smarter than Netflix and bolder than Uber in our efforts to connect with them,” he instructed.
Conference attendees displayed a common purpose as they exchanged experiences and strategies regarding subjects as diverse as leadership, data management, and how to best share a ministry’s stories. Jeny Cortez, STCH Ministries Director of Development, commented, “There’s no sense of competition. We all want everyone to be successful. We know it is all for the glory of God and the healing of broken lives.”
Conference attendees were reminded of the importance of their work by two of the residents of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home who attended the event. Ryleigh and Sophia helped with logistics and each spoke during the meetings. When Ryleigh first moved to the children’s home, she did not understand why her mom made the decision to send her into residential care. She was convinced she had done something unforgivable. Professional counseling and the unconditional love of her houseparents helped Ryleigh decide to trust in Jesus as her Savior.
The conference ended with participants returning to their home organizations full of inspiration, new ideas, and a powerful sense of connection to their counterparts in other states. In 2020, the Connections Conference will be hosted by Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in South Carolina.