Dayna Iscano, children’s minister of Good News UMC in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, was chosen as the winner of our “Win Tickets for Your Ministry Team” contest! Congratulations, Dayna and team! Here is a small portion of Dayna’s story:
After coming on as children’s minister of Good News UMC, my first official order of business was subscribing to 252 Basics for September 2006. I had four students my first Sunday. Today, K-5th grade reaches over 100 different children, with a regular attendance of 40 kids each week. The last five years have not been a cake walk and have definitely been a time of continual learning with trial-and-error.
I attended my first of two Orange Conferences, alone, in 2008. After hearing one of the speakers say, “It’s okay to change things,” I felt free. I went back home with this entire new attitude toward change, and changed the program to work for us. Change is still something I am embracing every day. I never want us to keep doing a program, teaching a lesson or having an activity because that is what we’ve always done. I’m constantly reassessing and reevaluating to see how we can do things better and impact the lives of more families even if it means to wipe the slate clean and start over.
I’m still the only paid staff member for children’s ministries, so it is our dedicated volunteers who make children’s ministries happen each week. They are volunteers who are starting to get the big picture and really invest in their small groups, year after year, growing with them. And families who have loved what everyone is learning are also getting involved and volunteering. After attending my first Orange Conference in 2008, we developed a small core team, as well as a larger team of volunteers. It has taken a couple of years to develop the core team as well as the large team, but it’s wonderful to finally have a group that I can talk things over with.
We all know from watching the news every day that the entire nation is hurting financially, but our area, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is one of the hardest hit areas. Not only did we suffer the crash of the economy, but we also have the affects of the BP oil spill. The people who live here were all either construction workers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, or involved in areas of tourism. We saw a lot of heartbreak, even in my own family. Stories of job loss have affected our entire congregation of 300 members making it difficult to do much of anything. Therefore our church council made a decision in 2009, that all ministries have to be self-supporting in order to spend any money. Bottom line, I have to raise every dollar that is spent in children’s ministries. While some days that news is grim and frustrating, I am amazed at what God continues to accomplish in children’s ministries on less than a shoe string budget.
Due to finances, I am only able to attend the Orange Conference every other year. My second time was in 2010. Our Pastor had sent out an email request telling everyone in his contacts about my desire to go to this conference and take two members of our ministry team with. Someone, who lives in another state, was so moved by the email that they sent the money to pay for our attendance. Attending The Orange Conference every other year helps bring new ideas, focus, encouragement and a time for refreshing. It is the only time I am ever able to truly be in community worship with fellow believers because I am never able to attend a worship service. The same is for one of the other people I plan on using the second ticket for, my mother, Kathy. Mom has always volunteered for children’s ministries, but three years ago we started to be short-handed on our nursery preschoolers volunteers, so she started filling in each week. As children’s minister, I am responsible for Nursery-5th grade, however we have still only been able to use 252 Basics and have not become users of First Look. It is my hope, that as volunteers continue to grow, my mother will be able to implement using the First Look curriculum. Therefore, it would not only be much needed worship time for her to attend the conference, but hopefully it will help train and give her ideas.
The third ticket I would like to use for our Pastor, Randy. Pastor Randy is one of children’s ministries greatest supporters and advocates, as well as a great boss. He doesn’t micro-manage every decision children’s ministries makes, and is always available when I need to meet with him. The fourth ticket would go to one of following two people: Jennifer or Greg. They are husband and wife and an awesome couple! Greg and Jennifer do not have any children of their own, but love and believe in children’s ministry so much, that they are two of my most active volunteers. (Side note from Orange: we gave them each a ticket to attend.) The last ticket would go to a volunteer named Andrea. Andrea has been volunteering in children’s ministry for the past nine years, starting in preschool ministry for the first four and then moving over to K-5th. Additionally, Andrea volunteers with our youth group, which does not currently use the student curriculum XP3, so it would be awesome to introduce her to that curriculum.
We received so many amazing stories that choosing just one was an extremely difficult task. A big thank you to all of the people who entered. We are so humbled daily to be a part of the story God has for you. Keep doing what you’re doing, because your community desperately needs you, and it gives our staff a lot of encouragement to know you’re also out there working to bridge the gap between the church, the family and the community. Stay tuned for more contests leading up to OC12. And you can also check out our recent post on getting to OC12 on a budget for ideas: https://t.co/ZRsysTQz.
Have a great weekend, and thanks for thinking Orange!