Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Brenda Kilgore (left) helps make single moms from the community, such as Yamile Sanchez, Cassandra Irvin, Krystal Brooks, April Mclaughlin, Venita Barnett and Nyra Williams, feel loved, valued and appreciated.

Piney Forest Church Connects with Single Moms

Story by Tiffany Doss

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 10 million single mother-led families exist in this country. “Single moms are one of the fastest-growing segments of population in the region of Danville, Va.,” explains Brenda Kilgore, the Single Moms Ministries coordinator for Potomac Conference's Piney Forest church. After studying local demographics and discussing ways to improve service to the community, the congregation felt called to minister to this population.

Kilgore, a former single mother of 15 years, explains, “We discovered there was no organization catering to this demographic within 60 miles of Danville. Through statistical data, we learned two out of three single mothers don’t attend church. This means their children are more susceptible to poverty, abuse and jail time.”

She continues, “We initially thought we would partner with the local social services office, but soon realized they didn’t have the time or personnel to even make referrals.” While at a Potomac pastor’s meeting, Luis Beltre, the pastor of Piney Forest, heard of The Life of a Single Mom, an international group that provides support and solutions to single-parent challenges and helps churches and community groups support single mothers in three main areas: parenting, finances and health.

The congregation purchased The Life of a Single Mom Start-Up Kit for under $300, which Kilgore says contains everything a group needs to start. Three months before their first scheduled meeting, members began distributing pamphlets to daycare centers, restaurants and doctors’ and social services’ offices. “The positive response from the community was overwhelming,” says Kilgore. “Local businesses gave us gift certificates as door prizes for our meetings. Restaurant owners offered to provide our meals, and women in the community wanted to know how they could volunteer.”

A month before their first meeting, Kilgore says the congregation and the ministry team did the most important item on their start-up list—30 days of prayer. “This is crucial!” she says. “The church body needs to be prepared to love and welcome single moms and their children into the congregation.”

Six moms and 11 children attended the first meeting, and after just four meetings, the group nearly doubled. Numbers continue to climb. The Danville Single Moms Group meets twice a month for an hour-and- a-half, and each meeting includes free dinner and childcare. Recently, the group hosted their first major event—a free car wash for the attendees.

“It’s all about making moms feel loved, valued and appreciated,” comments Kilgore. “We are making friends and helping them build a network of support. We don’t give advice, we listen. We don’t judge, we love. We laugh, cry, complain and rejoice. Our mission is not to fix moms; it’s to introduce them to the Fixer.”

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