A “Celebration for the Children” was held Sunday, October 25, 2009. The Henning Life Center located across the street from Henning Memorial UMC, was the site for the celebration. While original plans were to host the event at the building site of the future children’s Home, recent rainfall made that impossible.  The local community of the Sulphur/Lake Charles area and representatives from across the Lake Charles District turned out to show their support of our new Home being built to serve youth in the Southwestern part of Louisiana. Construction is underway to build a facility which will eventually house up to 32 youth. This new Home is the realization of the ongoing mission of the Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services, Inc. to “Guide Children and Families Home to Experience God’s Love by Following the Teachings of Christ.”  The new residential facility will enable the Home to minister to even more of Louisiana’s hurting youth and families which is our ultimate goal.

It was standing room only as there were approximately 250 seats available and an estimated 350 people in attendance!  The First United Methodist Church of Lake Charles, along with Henning Memorial United Methodist Church, DeQuincy UMC, University UMC and other churches from the Lake Charles District planned this event through a Volunteer Committee that just took the idea and ran with it!! These volunteers could be seen wearing red t-shirts with “Let’s Get it Built” printed on them. With an outpouring of commitment from the community and an overwhelming response, the celebration was a rousing success. Guests were welcomed by volunteers from Westlake UMC and then treated to an old fashioned Hymn Singing and Ice Cream social. Students from the Wesley Foundation of McNeese University (in Lake Charles) served the delicious Klienpeter ice cream.

Hymns were sung by all in attendance, while a children’s choir comprised of children from all of the different churches in the district provided special music through songs such as “Jesus Loves Me”. One of the older children in the group, Mark Losey, performed an amazing saxophone solo of the song “Amazing Grace”.

Ben Mount, a member of the volunteer committee, served as Master of Ceremonies and introduced Rev. Stephen Spurlock who gave the invocation. Terrel J. DeVille, President and CEO of LUMCFS, Inc., then spoke, thanking everyone for such great attendance – especially those who were fans of the New Orleans Saints who happened to be playing during the event. He gave a brief history of how the need arose for a facility in the SWLA area, stating that hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the catalyst that helped make us acutely aware of the needs of children and families in the southern area of our state.

The presentation of a Time Capsule ensued.  The Time Capsule was donated by Howell Industries and the intention is to bury it on the new campus to be opened 50 years from now. Children came forward with items to place in the time capsule. Their items were pictures of their churches and their written visions of what they expect their churches will be like in future.

Following Mr. DeVille’s remarks, Bishop William Hutchinson gave a sermon. In regards to the new facility he said “This is an important Methodist institution deserving of our support in all ways; worthy of our prayers and giving of our time and monetary donations.”

Mayor Ron LeLeux of Sulphur, and Mayor Randy Roach of Lake Charles were on hand as well and emphasized the needs of their communities and stated that the area was sorely lacking in resources for the overwhelming needs of hurting youth and families here.  This facility will fill a void in the area of services for children.

Part of the celebration was a time during which churches and individuals announced their commitments to support the new Home. One such commitment was made by Rev. Jerry Crise of DeQuincy UMC. Rev. Crise stated that his small church had made a commitment of $20,000 over the next 5 years but expected that it would be paid off within a couple of years. He challenged other United Methodist Church’s in the district to do the same. Mickey and Bob Shannon along with several other couples from University UMC announced their commitment to provide funds for the naming opportunity for one room and are “working on a second naming opportunity.”  Ben Mount also mentioned a generous gift by Dr. and Mrs. Scott Bergstedt and family which will provide funding to name and furnish the Lobby as a memorial to their son Benjamin Pierce Bergstedt. It was shared with those in attendance that the very first naming opportunity donation was made by Dr. George Vincent in honor of his wife Nina Vincent.

Mr. DeVille said that the fact that the Lake Charles District had stepped up to take ownership of this new Home, accepting it as a responsibility and a calling to support it, really bodes well for the future of the home.

The celebration wrapped up with a benediction by Rev. Aneice Moses of Warren UMC.

Prayer Rocks were passed out by Sue Crise, with DeQunicy UMC, to encourage everyone to pray for the new Home in Southwest Louisiana.

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