Don’t believe anyone who says there is not a place or need for children’s homes in our country. While Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) is built on a solid foundation of success in helping hurting children, the landscape is rapidly changing in the care of distressed children and families.
Why do I bring this up? When a discussion of pros and cons comes up or is reported in the news, I want you to know who we are today and how we got to this place. BCH is keenly aware of the need for flexibility and innovation in being a provider of choice for those who are hurting, troubled or broken. I want you to be assured that (as always) we are changing with the times and instituting dynamic programs that respond directly to the needs of children and families in 2020 and beyond.
Baptist Children’s Homes is celebrating its 135th anniversary in 2020. I’m not going to spend this year simply reinforcing our past successes. Rather, I am launching a platform that will carry us and others who care for those hurting and needing help well into the future. Here’s a snapshot:
• North Carolina Baptists have been in the vanguard of progressive child care since the inception of Thomasville Baptist Orphanage (TBO) on November 11, 1885.
• BCH continues its time-honored tradition of improving lives and lifting hope with daring plans for the future. In fact, we’ll spend much of 2021 in intensive planning, praying, and preparing as we hopefully come out from the shadow of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
• The Orphanage was founded by a small group of dedicated, passionate people who saw a dire need to care for orphaned children. Despite intense opposition, this hardy band of pioneers persevered until 9-year-old Mary Presson from Ahoskie stepped off a train in Thomasville to become the first child in care.
• BCH continues in 2020 to provide grace and care to children and families in crisis through the passion and hard work of individuals dedicated to helping, hoping, and healing.
Why do I want you to compare the TBO of yesteryear to the BCH of today? Because it’s important to honor the rich tradition and strong success of those upon whose shoulders we now stand. Equally, it’s important to emphasize that BCH continues to seek out and meet the changing needs of those we serve, while remaining resolute in our mission to achieve positive and measurable outcomes in all we do.
We have responded to the emerging societal needs which precipitated the change from the self-contained Orphanage to the child-centered but family-focused home of today. When John Mills begged, urged, pleaded for Orphanage support in 1883-84, he saw the distress of widows and orphans who were left without husbands and fathers. And he was determined to relieve that distress.
Today, BCH provides an array of services to children and families from 24 North Carolina locations. While the methods and scope are different, the passion and commitment to the “orphanage vision” remain the same. BCH models a constant readiness to step forward and meet identified needs, even during a pandemic, even when others have turned away.
The TBO of 1885 was only for children. They were given food, clothes, shelter, and discipline in a tightly-controlled environment, from which they rarely departed. The BCH of 2020 works with children and families, and children are often off-campus with work, home visits, school, and recreational activities. Consider the ways we have stretched and changed to offer a continuum of services, now serving those from the cradle to the grave with the addition of the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) a decade ago.
As we honor our past, celebrate our present, and plan for our future, we especially recognize and express gratitude to those who serve children and families daily, those who offer prayer and financial support, and the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before. In return, it is my solemn promise that we will be faithful to the call of God upon this ministry and that we will honor Christ who loved children because “of such is the kingdom of God.”
For more information on the services BCH provides, go to www.bchfamily.org
My Thoughts is written by Michael C. Blackwell, BCH President/CEO