Covenant of Action partners First Baptist Church and NextGen Church of Trenton, N.J., are working together to lead an after school program at a local school in on of the lowest performing districts in the state of New Jersey. Their aim is to raise academic performance and provide enriching experiences in the arts.
With funds used from a grant provided by New Baptist Covenant, the partners have embarked on two specific projects related to the arts. One was to expose students to the arts by taking them to musical performances at a nearby community college, and another in which they hired a local music producer to work with students in eight sessions to create their own music and learn how to perform it.
The journey has been challenging but filled with glimpses of God’s grace and love, according to leaders of the churches. Each day, approximately 40 students are served as volunteers support them with academic tutoring and extra curricula activities. Through the help of these volunteers from the two churches and communities, the program is growing into a viable and exciting ministry.
One of the ongoing volunteers is a retired teacher from the Trenton’s First Baptist Church. Each Thursday, she brings an exciting art project in which the children can participate. But more than the projects, she extends the love of Christ in tangible ways.
There are also nearly 10 teens from NextGen Church serving on a consistent basis. These young people are not only serving as tutors and helpers, but they are building friendships that extend across cultural, socio-economic and regional boundaries.
One of the highlights of this collaboration has been the Thanksgiving dinner. This event involved many volunteers from the two churches, as well as people outside the immediate community. The dinner was held at First Baptist where students and families came around the table to eat together, talk, and laugh. It was a beautiful time of coming together as a family, according to staff and volunteers.
The partners look forward to the coming year, as they plan to expand this ministry to serve more schools and families in the Trenton region.