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Church in SCC uses kid’s programs to spread the Word

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image Youth from the South County area enjoy performing at Sun City Center United Methodist Church in the group J.A.M. which stands for Jesus And Me. Penny Fletcher Photo

“It’s like the kids have a dozen grandparents.”


SUN CITY CENTER — When I met 14 of the 21 youngsters who currently belong to the new singing group at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church they certainly didn’t resemble a traditional choir holding hymn books and wearing robes.

In bright silver vests the congregation had provided for them, the members of the new singing group JAM — which stands for Jesus and Me — sang with gusto about joy and happiness and love, and later told me that’s what they receive when they attend the church and the new Kidz Klub that’s been started there.

According to Pat Hill and Linda Whitt who work with the Klub, their pastor, Warren Langer, decided there had to be ways to involve the younger generation in the area in worship.

Admittedly, some of the congregation didn’t approve — Sun City Center being a retirement community — one mother told me. But the members who stayed and helped make the changes have since gone all out to welcome young families and their children and provide a place for them in their worship and their lives. New members of all ages are now joining because they like the intergenerational church.

“It’s like the kids have a dozen grandparents,” said Tammy Berry, whose twin boys, Lincoln and Graham, started in Kidz Klub, then joined JAM, and now the whole family attends the church.

“It’s that midweek connection — going there more than just on Sundays — that makes it like visiting their grandparents,” Tammy said.

Herman and Tammy Lucht of Ruskin found the Kidz Klub (and JAM) through their Cub Scout Troop that meets at that church.

Both are den leaders. They said they were surprised and glad to find a church in Sun City Center that reaches out in so many ways to families.

“Our kids get mad if we skip coming,” said Tammy (Lucht). “They don’t ever want to miss.”

Their children, Dustin and Destiny agreed.

“I feel energetic when I sing with JAM,” Dustin said.

Destiny said she enjoyed learning about God.

Drew Paulson who lives in Wimauma with his dad said he likes the Klub and the singing group. “I think it’s fun,” he said.

Pat Hill and Linda Whitt said it all started when their pastor suggested a music and arts program for area youth.

“When I began working with the ministries at the United Methodist Church, I was asked by Pastor Warren Langer to form a children’s choir. My vision was children standing and singing a simple song. After 15 minutes with the children, I knew their potential far exceeded my vision,” Linda said.  “JAM was born, and the exciting journey began. JAM performs the second Sunday of each month, with costumes, props, dancing and singing to a mix of contemporary music and the “days of old” VBS songs. Members of the congregation support this endeavor in ways we never imagined – as they say, ‘We hope someone is doing this for our grandchildren.’ From three children in our church three years ago, we now have children’s programs in all areas of ministry. Future plans for JAM include performing at resident facilities and community festivals. Our electronic sign reads ‘We Love Children.’ In a recent performance, the JAM children shouted, ‘We Are Your Future,’ and the congregation said, ‘Amen’.”

Pat introduced me to parents from all over South County. “All our children couldn’t come tonight because of the many last week of school activities — and of course, the rain,”  she said. It was pouring buckets off and on all afternoon that day.

Still 14 of the 21 regulars involved in JAM showed up to practice the Father’s Day program. Examining their faces as they sang, not one did not look enthusiastic.

Glenn Appleyard from Apollo Beach is a member of the church — but not a parent to any of the children who attend there. He volunteers with the Kidz Klub and JAM just because he likes it and finds it rewarding and worthwhile, he said.

Shannon Powe of Wimauma, mother of six-year-old Katelyn and aunt of 10-year-old Savana, both of whom sing in the group and go to the Klub, summed up why the family drives from Wimauma to attend church, and its various functions, in Sun City Center.

“I was married here years ago but there wasn’t really anything for people in my age group,” she explained. “But these people have really stepped out of the box. There’s not a lot in our area for the children, and here they’re getting warm guidance and accepting mentors. A little over a year ago, I brought the kids to Vacation Bible School here and could see they were going out of their way to do something for younger people, so we came back to this church.”

Kidz Klub meets on Wednesdays at 5:30 and they’re fed dinner at 5:45. Then they have activities, games, music and a devotional time,” Glenn Appleyard said. “I really enjoy helping with that.” 

To find out more, call (813) 634-2539 or simply show up. The church is located at 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W. in Sun City Center.

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