Clintonville Christian Church, in Paris, Kentucky, is always looking for ways to expand its mission. The congregation has about 70 worshippers on average.
Back in the spring, the Christian Education Ministry Team had their first planning meeting for the summer’s Vacation Bible School, to decide on a themed curriculum and create a corresponding mission project. The curriculum they chose was called “Mountaintop Adventure.” With that theme in mind, team member, and retired clergy, Linda Kemp had an idea.
“I immediately thought of goats.”
While working for Church World Service earlier in her career, Kemp took a trip to Honduras, and saw the immense difference goats made for families in the rural mountainous communities there.
So, during the VBS planning meeting, she showed the group the Church World Service gift catalog, which lists a pair of goats for $125. They decided to make this fundraiser their mission project this summer, and created a “Goat Jar” to collect money each Sunday in worship.
Soon, they’d collected more than change in a jar.
A congregation member issued a challenge – if enough money was collected to donate that pair of goats, they would match it, to purchase a second pair.
The congregation continued to save their coins, cash, and checks to drop in the Goat Jar. On the third Sunday of the July challenge, Kemp led the “Sharing the Faith” children’s moment, and talked about the goats she saw changing lives in Honduras, how their cheese and milk was a vital gift to children in those communities.
Later in that service, an anonymous gift was placed in the offering plate. Enclosed in the envelope was $125 in cash, and a note that simply said, “Goats 5 and 6,” assuming the challenge for the second pair would be met.
Excitement continued to grow throughout the congregation. “The weekend of VBS, kids had such joy dropping coins into the jar,” Kemp said. “As a part of that day, I took my photo album of my trip to Honduras and showed the kids pictures of a family with their goat.” She also told the abut the conditions in which many families live in the rural countryside.
On the fourth Sunday, more donations came. The final amount was more than enough to purchase 5 pairs of goats, so the church designated the additional funds towards children’s nutritional needs, through Church World Service.
But that’s not the only mission project Clintonville Christian took on this summer.
“At the same time we were collecting for the goats we were collecting school supplies,” Kemp explained. To end their VBS weekend, Clintonville held a Back to School Festival, a community event at which the church gives needed school supplies to kids who might need them. At that event, the congregation gave away 28 bags of school supplies and 32 backpacks.
“This is why we often say we are a small church with a big heart.”