Huntingdon and First UMC Announce Partnership for Community Programs
Montgomery, Ala.—At a news conference held earlier today, Huntingdon College and First United Methodist Church, Montgomery, announced plans to use the former Cloverdale School building as a site for the development and delivery of programs that will enrich the lives of those in the Montgomery community and in the River Region. Huntingdon President J. Cameron West, FUMC Senior Pastor Lawson Bryan, FUMC Associate Pastor Nathan Attwood, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, and Bishop Paul A. Duffey, bishop-in-residence at FUMC, offered remarks.
The church will lease the facility from Huntingdon and spend a year researching and planning for programs that meet community needs, said Bryan. "Some may ask why we don't just build a new building on the grounds of FUMC--but we looked at the use of the Cloverdale School along with our friends at Huntingdon College, and decided that would be the perfect site in which we could assess community needs and invite teams of citizens from all over the region to participate in the development and delivery of services that meet those needs," said Bryan. The FUMC strategic plan calls for the exploration of such ideas as adult day care, after-school programs for children and youth, respite programs for families of children who have disabilities, and a community recycling center. "The really exciting and fun part of this is that it will be an interdenominational, community-wide effort," said Bryan. "We will invite citizens from all over the area to propose and be involved in the development of programs that serve the community."
Bryan said the facility will also house the church's campus/college ministries programs, and will provide space for outreach ministries, such as food and clothing centers. According to Bryan, the church also plans to offer a worship gathering that draws on ancient Christian practices of prayer while incorporating visual and performing arts and modern technology to create a participatory and multi-sensory experience. "This worship gathering intends to embrace the diverse talent of the community and help Huntingdon students preparing for church-related vocations learn worship planning in a dynamic and creative environment," said Bryan. The first of these ministry experiences, an interactive reading of the Gospel of Mark, was held Tuesday evening at the facility. Attwood will lead the community-related programs and ministries that operate out of the Cloverdale building.
The church will invite Huntingdon students to be involved through internships in a variety of areas. Depending upon which ideas come to fruition, West said that Huntingdon interns could come from a number of different areas of study. "Huntingdon has programs in physical education where students are working with children in adapted sports activities; our music and music education students are teaching piano lessons at no cost to children involved in the Common Ground Ministries after-school programs; elementary education majors and other student volunteers are tutoring at various schools; accounting majors are providing free tax preparation services to low-income families as trained SaveFirst volunteers; and our youth ministry, Christian education, and religion majors are interning with a number of churches across the region," said West. "This cooperative center will only multiply the internship areas and possibilities, and, because it is located on our Cloverdale Campus, even students who don't have cars will be able to participate."
Huntingdon and First United Methodist Church have been partners in ministry since the earliest days of Huntingdon's arrival in Montgomery in 1909. Among the many on-going projects and shared experiences, Huntingdon and FUMC are co-leading groups for travel-study experiences in Greece and Turkey and in mission service to Panama next year.
Huntingdon College, grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the United Methodist Church, is committed to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Founded in 1854, Huntingdon is a coeducational liberal arts college. Huntingdon placement rates into graduate and professional schools are, in most cases, more than twice the national averages.