Social service agencies in the Buffalo region have been working for years to find homes for would-be foster children. Having the help of the area’s largest “mega-churches” should only help their cause.
To commemorate World Orphan Sunday, two area congregations Sunday announced new partnerships with social service agencies that aim to provide foster children with new homes, supportive families and a religious upbringing.
Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church and the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg have joined a new adoption ministry started by The Chapel at CrossPoint, the Amherst parish that draws up to 2,000 people to its sprawling complex each week.
Leaders say the Every Child foster care, adoption and orphan care ministry is a natural extension of their faith and the Bible’s teaching to care for the defenseless. Parish officials unveiled the plan as a way to serve the more than 1,000 children in Erie and Niagara counties who have no home. The Chapel has worked with Gateway-Longview, a child and family service organization, and the Niagara County Department of Social Services on the effort.
“Our goal is to empty the foster care system in Western New York,” said Steve Poissant, volunteer coordinator of the CrossPoint ministry.
Announced in June, the program has already made an impact at The Chapel, where nearly 30 families have started the process to become state certified foster parents. Another 400 parishioners have volunteered to provide transportation, child care, meals, money and clothing for the children.
The ministry has a personal meaning for Poissant, who with his wife has adopted five children between the ages of 5 and 9.
“They’re awesome,” he said of his children. “They’re so diverse – there’s the shy one, there’s the outspoken one. It makes us feel like any other family, it’s just that these kids come into the family by different means.”
Poissant spoke Sunday before a congregation that filled most of the theater seats in the auditorium, preceding a musical act that had many members swaying to the music. The final verses of the song were sung by two young girls who were recently adopted by members of the parish, and leaders played a video featuring new foster parents.
“Some of these children were found living in cars, so literally this is a rescue operation for little children that are not able to take care of themselves,” parishioner Ed Kim said in the video.
“It’s very, very hard, but it’s brought so much joy, just watching the stories of redemption, of people’s lives changing, children’s lives changing, our lives changing,” said his wife, Mickie Kim.