ABHMS Penny Project surpasses 5 million
The Penny Project of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)—which encourages churches and other ministries to raise 14 million pennies to represent and aid children newborn to age 18 living in poverty in the United States and Puerto Rico—has surpassed 5 million pennies. While the achievement is remarkable, even more so is the story of one church that helped in exceeding the milestone—namely, New Creation Baptist Church, Wheaton, Md.
New Creation recently reported that its penny collection has grown to 300,000, which pushed the project’s national total beyond 5 million. However, not long ago, the church’s collection was down to zero. The congregation had been collecting for 10 months, amassing approximately 40,000 pennies toward a goal of 100,000. When the water-cooler jug could hold no more pennies, other containers were employed. All were stolen during the weekend of Jan. 8, 2011.
“We can’t lose anything because God has a way of not only replacing but replacing it 10-fold,” says New Creation’s pastor, the Rev. Ella Redfield.
As the media spread news of the robbery, a variety of churches, organizations and individuals from across the United States restarted New Creation’s collection by contributing pennies, other coins and checks. On several occasions, according to Redfield, heavy, penny-filled boxes were mailed to or dropped off at the church.
Describing herself as “nonreligious,” one woman donated a $400 check because she “could not get past the fact that someone would come into a church and steal,” says Redfield.
Similar to many other churches participating in The Penny Project, New Creation encouraged its children to take the lead in the endeavor, explaining that they’d be helping classmates who are missing out on the life that God intends. “I wanted children to help children,” says Redfield. “I want them to have a sensitivity and concern for the world.”
Remembering the joy she felt as a young girl when she and fellow Sunday school students purchased a brick for the Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral, an 86-year-old Florida woman sent more than 10,000 pennies to encourage New Creation’s children, according to Redfield.
“Everybody was so shocked that someone would have the audacity to come into a church and take children’s pennies. Not that churches in our area hadn’t experienced robberies before,” says Redfield, “but because they were the children’s pennies.”
Launched nationally by ABHMS in 2009, The Penny Project was inspired by the youth of First Baptist Church, New London, N.H., who collected 60,000 pennies to represent and aid the children living in poverty in their state.
The Volume 1, 2011, issue of The Christian Citizen—slated to publish in May—will focus on The Penny Project, including its origin, progress to date and participating churches.
For more information or to get your church started on a penny collection that will make a difference in children’s lives, go to The Penny Project Web page or contact the Rev. Lisa Harris, ABHMS national coordinator of the Justice for Children Initiative and Christian Center Relations, at email@example.com or 800-222-3872, x2158.
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