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Children nurtured while parents attend SBC

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Being paralyzed from the chest down doesn’t stop 16-year-old Jacob Scoggins.

A second-year volunteer for the children’s program during the Southern Baptist Convention, Scoggins is not the only one willing to sleep on the floor of a church in order to minister to kids.

The dearth of hotel rooms has meant that the male volunteers with Children’s Conferences International (CCI) of Indianapolis are sleeping on the floor of a nearby Baptist church.

Scoggins is the kind of volunteer that CCI director Stephen Leckenby knows will make a difference.

“I want them to remember a teenager or college kid that was dedicated to Christ,” Leckenby said.

Volunteers traveled from Kansas, California, Texas, New Hampshire and other states to minister to nearly 500 kids through skits, juggling, music, crafts, Scripture memory and other activities.

CCI provides children’s ministry at conferences all over North America.

“We’re not just here to have fun,” Leckenby said. “There’s an enormous amount of planning. We try to create a ton of energy to draw kids in. We really try to plant something in their hearts.”

And it’s working. Red-clad T-shirt volunteers seemed to outnumber the children at the Coliseum’s Pavilion.

As the fourth of 12 siblings, Lacey Matson, 18, of Asheboro, N.C., is experienced in taking care of children and was ready to join the dozens who donated time for the SBC annual meeting.

When the opportunity arose to help, her entire family volunteered except their father, who had to work.

“We had a lot of free time over the next few days,” said Matson, who was working as a childcare crew leader in charge of 2- to 3 year-olds — good practice before the birth of her 13th brother or sister who is due Oct. 22.

“I love the energy of the volunteers,” she said. “It’s inspiring. Even after they have worked all this time, they just keep giving and giving.”

While Matson kept her eye on a couple of children, her mother, Sara, sat with Grace Matson, 2, and chatted with Jake Delmotte, 4, of Chattanooga, Tenn. Nearby Kaitlyn Matson, 4, hugged a purple bear and watched her mother.

“My 13th child is due in October,” Sara Matson said. “My job here is to be available when children need mommy kisses.”

The spirit of cooperation among the volunteers moved 18-year old Ben Nissley.

“I saw a need,” Nissley said, “and I thought that God wanted me to step up and fill it.”

Nissley referred to their work at the convention as a “double ministry” — it enables pastors and their wives to take a break and attend the SBC while their children are safe but nearby.

“The ministry draws families together,” Leckenby said.
Holly Cark of Carson-Newman College is part of the Journalism Institute sponsored by Baptist Press and associated with Campbell University in North Carolina.

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  • Holly Clark