Members of All Nations Church at the Winter Arts & Crafts fair

 


A young member in the courtyard at All Nations Church in Minneapolis, MN.

All Nations Church is a congregation of the United Church of Christ with an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ( ELCA) pastor under call from the Minneapolis Area Synod, Rev Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo. All Nations provides a Word and Sacrament ministry among a large community of Indian people in Minneapolis and networks with many organizations providing social service. The main outreach ministry of All Nations is to serve children and their families. Their childcare center provides support and services to Indian families in the community.

All Nations Child Care Center

All Nations Child Care Center opened in the spring of 1990, after a year of planning by a consultant and volunteer church member committee. The committee followed the directive of the congregation to use the space for outreach to children of the community. Becky Goze was hired as the director/teacher and moved through the process of licensing the program for preschool aged children. The center served twenty children 33 months until kindergarten entry. A culturally diverse staff helped low-income American Indian children prepare for successful school entry, with social and emotional development skills for their lifetime.

It became the first American Indian focused program to become accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in the Phillips Neighborhood. This was accomplished through support from partnerships with local child care organizations and congregations which saw the program as a credible way to make significant impact and a difference in opportunities for children living in and around the neighborhood.

Volunteers regularly donated supplies, toys, time, birthday books, and holiday gifts for families of enrolled children. A Special Needs Coordinator visited weekly to provide extra services to some of the children. An elder in the community repaired favorite toys. Parents were encouraged to visit their children any time. One year, parents wrote letters to legislators in support of a law to allow them to leave their work to participate in early education activities without fear of repercussions from their employers. Parents felt very empowered when the law passed giving them this right!

The program was negatively affected by child care subsidy and grant cut-backs during the 2003 Minnesota legislative session. Vicky Chavez Peabody, the director at this time, decided to add school aged care in an attempt to keep the enrollment up and to serve siblings of the preschool aged children. For a short time, Dakota language was taught to the children through a language immersion program. Over time, the challenges of budgeting for a small program became too great.

The center director was approached about a partnership with the Early Childhood Resource and Training Center (ECRTC) in 2007 to include programming for family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) child care providers to participate in play and learn type program with activities for the children and modeling and education for the adults.

The Church Board, however, made the difficult decision that the child care aspect of programming could not be maintained in the challenging financial situation of the state and country.

Currently, the space has been painted and upgraded and is being used for the ECRTC outreach program for American Indian FFN providers and children. Three days for three hours, children and adults are transported to All Nations for age appropriate activities and snacks planned by an experienced early childhood teacher. Field trips to the Franklin Library, the Children’s Museum, and other neighborhood sites happen one day a week. The adults participate in educational opportunities to enhance their understanding of child growth, safety, health care, play, literacy, and nurturing activities to support the children in their development and socialization skills. Children and adults do fun activities together. All Nations Church continues to provide the space as a community outreach for children and their families.

What can a partner congregation do?

  1. Provide medium maintenance support (painting, cleaning, etc.) for the All Nations facility.
  2. Invite members from All Nations to speak at an adult forum or adult Sunday school meeting.
  3. Attend the Service of Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Eve at partner congregations. This is a service that celebrates American Indian history.

Partnership in action

Old First Reformed UCC in Philadelphia and Markusgemeinde in Bielefeld, Germany
News 10/21/2011

All Nations is pleased to host The First Nations Repatriation Institute - Click Here

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:34