Editor’s Note: As reported in the June 13 edition of The Pathway, the Strawberry Festival hosted at First Baptist Church here each year draws valuable support for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH).
But, as noted more recently by officials from the MBCH, the Strawberry Festival does not fully fund the ministry. The event provides less than one percent of the MBCH’s annual operating budget and works alongside other means of funding—such as the Cooperative Program and the direct gifts of individuals and churches.
ARNOLD – Strawberries always take center stage at the annual Strawberry Festival for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH), but quilts and crafts also play leading roles. The Festival, held at FBC Arnold, attracted families and shoppers from the entire St. Louis metropolitan area.
“I believe this is the largest crowd we’ve had,” Derald Harris, MBCH vice president for public relations, said. “We’ve got a full room of vendors.”
Harris said the proceeds from the Festival go toward the many programs offered by the Children’s Home.
“The funds take care of the pregnancy program,” he said, “we are able to save babies from abortion. Also, for the last five years, we have been able to conduct the human trafficking rescue program.”
Harris continued to share that the Children’s Home has three campuses, but 90 percent of the children are taken care of in foster care.
“We spend most of our time recruiting and training foster families,” Harris said. “Most of the children are in homes like yours. God ordained the family as the institution to care for and nurture children, not a group home.”
“Sometimes they start at the home,” he said, “but, we try to get them in a home environment as soon as possible because they do better in homes. At any given day, we have about 650 children and about 700 families trained as fosters.”
Wanda Shellenbarger, member of Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, MO and women’s ministry specialist, works through the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and she ministers to women and girls, equipping women to share the gospel.
“We offer a Crisis Pregnancy Retreat,” she said. “We take the girls and their children to the Branson area for a four-day event. We offer them classes including parenting classes.”
Shellenbarger said she gets support from several sources in the Springfield/Branson area. “Eight to ten churches help with this retreat. Also, the Sight and Sound Theatre provides tickets for the ladies,” she said, “and that always opens the Bible to the girls.”
Lisa Day, member of FBC Arnold, helped Shellenbarger at the ministry table and agreed that the ministry is important.
“It is important for women to grow together by studying scripture,” she said.
According to Harris, the annual Strawberry Festival makes all of the ministry possible for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.