The Diaper Church - Issue #207 (September 19, 2014)
This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document click: The Diaper Church
Absecon United Methodist Church in Absecon, New Jersey, is located in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Palatial casinos sit just blocks from some of the poorest, most run down neighborhoods in New Jersey. Large, oceanfront mansions set within a mile of small, single-family homes filled with multiple families of migrant farm workers.
As members of Absecon UMC looked at the needs around them, they knew that Christ was calling them to be in ministry with the poor, and they began to seek a way to express their love and caring in the community. They discovered that while many churches were offering food pantries and clothing closets, an unmet need of economically poor families was diapers. They also learned that safety net programs such as WIC or SNAP (food stamps) do not cover diapers.
“Many parents are already struggling to pay for rent and food and simply cannot afford the high cost of an adequate supply of diapers for their children. And even for those families who use cloth diapers, the cost can be staggering, especially for those who don’t have adequate laundry facilities and must use coin-operated machines,” reported the president of the United Methodist Women.
The congregation, with leadership from the UMW, decided they could make a difference. They named this outreach “No Baby Wet Behind” and partnered with Family Services Association, a local non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening individuals and families in the South Jersey area. Diapers are collected at various locations both inside the church, outside the church, and in the community. Members collect them from neighbors and friends who have no connection to the church, and some members even collect diapers at their workplaces and bring them to the church for distribution by the Family Service Association.
Absecon UMC is proud that if you ask someone in the community about the church they are likely to respond with, “I know that church, it’s the diaper church!”
Questions for Discussion
- What is your congregation known for in the community? Is it related to living as disciples in the world?
- What are the hidden needs in your community? What other groups might you partner with to address these needs?