Project Transformation Memphis CelebratesPosted: July 26, 2016
Below please read the report our Executive Director, Courtney Aldrich offered Sunday night at Barlett United Methodist Church as we celebrated the inaugural summer of Project Transformation Memphis. There were so many glory sightings as listened to the witnesses of our interns and leaders. Thanks be to God for all who made it possible! 184 children! Over 500 volunteers!
Good evening. When Project Transformation’s journey to Memphis began a few years ago as a whisper and a nudge from above, the only thing we really had to start with was the extravagant generosity of one transformational God. What a foundation to build on!
In 2014, after several Memphis Annual Conference leaders — who are here tonight — visited Project Transformation at work in Nashville, they couldn’t help but wonder if they were being calling to bring this model of ministry to their hometown. Could there someday be a Project Transformation in Memphis?
These leaders immediately recognized a holy convergence of need and opportunity.
They knew there was a need here for a ministry that would involve and engage college-age young adults in service, leadership development, and ministry exploration. They knew there were vulnerable neighborhoods in Memphis that already were being served, but far too many that weren’t. They knew there were willing churches who could partner with PT’s service model for providing free summer programs to underserved children. They knew there was a tremendous spirit of generosity and caring, just waiting to be tapped. But they also knew that without the transformational power of Jesus Christ, none of this would matter.
And so, we began to journey together—leaders from both Memphis and Project Transformation—praying, listening, discerning, asking a lot of questions, praying again, listening still more, and walking forward in faith, one day at a time. And today, almost three years after hearing those first whispers, we are here tonight, celebrating being on the cusp of completing our inaugural year of Project Transformation in Memphis. Just look around this room. This is what it looks like when a community says YES to God’s holy nudges. Praise be to God!
Tonight, we say “thank you.” Thank you in behalf of Project Transformation for all you have done, for all you are, for your prayers, your gifts, your service, and for taking part in this joyous celebration.
We thank all who have made this banquet possible. To Bartlett First United Methodist Church for providing this space and meal … to Kristofer Roof for serving as our emcee … and to Marlon Bradford for our music.
We’ve already noted the story of “Corduroy” adorning each of your tables. At Project Transformation, we believe that everyone has a story to tell. And we seek to honor each and every story. There are the stories of our 184 children who have participated this summer in PT in Memphis, as well as the stories of their families. There are the stories of our more than 500 volunteers who served in Memphis this summer – each of whom brings their own personal stories to Project Transformation – and leaves with some new stories to tell. There are the stories of the two brave churches that serve as program sites for PT. And finally, there are the amazing stories of our young adult interns. So many stories! We hope many of you have gotten a chance to meet some of our interns and share meals with them and learn a little bit about their personal stories — how they are having an impact through PT, and how through PT that God is impacting them.
We thank the members of our Board of Directors and Memphis Launch Team for your commitment to our mission. If you serve on our board or Launch Team, please stand. Each of these people brings incredible talents to the leadership of Project Transformation – offering guidance, counsel and vision for our young nonprofit ministry. Thank you.
We want to express our deep gratitude to Bishop Bill McAlilly, Lynn McAlilly who serves on our board, and leaders of the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church for your support of the young lives of Project Transformation. We thank God for your willingness to introduce us to so many parts of our connectional church. You continue to offer your support in ways too numerous to list.
Tonight, we thank our two site churches: Centenary United Methodist Church and Longstreet United Methodist Church. These churches have graciously opened their doors and provided us with a space to connect with their neighborhoods. In so doing, they have strengthened their own presence in their communities – building new relationships and finding new ways to be in ministry.
We thank our 21 partner churches — without whom we could not exist here in Memphis. You provide us with volunteers, supplies and financial support and, together, we are transforming local communities.
We offer our thanks to the leaders of Christian Brothers University for welcoming our interns to live on your beautiful campuses. And our thanks to the community organizations that step forward with so many valuable resources … to our financial donors whose generosity and sacrifice have paid for everything from snacks for our kids to stipends for our interns … And may I ask: If you have ever served as a volunteer of any kind with PT, would you please stand and accept our applause?
We thank our inaugural class of Memphis interns—our pioneers who have given their hearts and souls to honoring God’s vision for this new ministry in West Tennessee. And supporting all of this are our gifted PT staff members, who inspire me daily with their passion and faithfulness. Keller Hawkins, Samantha Meadors. Sarah McCormick and Ali Sokolowski. Thank you all.
Finally and most importantly, we offer our praise and thanksgiving to God, who is the source of every good thing that we’re here to celebrate tonight. For every single thing that has occurred this summer at PT — whatever has been true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable — we give thanks to God.
We thank God for the relationships we’ve forged together this summer. For we know that the power of Project Transformation lies in relationships — in how God is using the sacred space between volunteers, children, young adults, and churches. It is in these relationships where barriers are broken down, and we fully live into the diverse and beautiful body that we were created to be. It is in these relationships that we are given a glimpse of who God is and who we are in God.