Harvest UMC shares gifts and creates abundance in Fort Worth
There’s nothing like realizing the abundance of unique gifts already in a congregation and innovatively sharing them with others. That’s exactly what Rev. Louis C. Carr, II, has done. Rev. Carr is a second career pastor of Harvest United Methodist Church (UMC) in Fort Worth, Texas. Harvest UMC was created in 2015 when Thompson Chapel UMC, a predominantly African-American congregation, and Ridglea UMC, a predominantly Anglo congregation merged to become one. Rev. Carr and his wife, Kennyal are trained civil and biomedical engineers, respectively, who have received the calling of abundant servanthood. Within the call was an urging to help advance school-aged children in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
In response to that call, TMF Area Representative Melvin Amerson engaged Rev. Carr in conversations that helped empower him to explore the gifts surrounding him. Carr explained, “Melvin pushed me. He said, ‘Louis, we talked many years ago about you and your wife using your engineering skills to reach people. Now’s the time to do it.’ The conversations gave birth to the STEM Academy. I wouldn’t have put it at the forefront had it not been for Melvin.”
Rev. Carr and his wife reached out to many talented members of their congregation, a number of whom are engineers employed by Lockheed Martin. Together they have formed a new ministry called Harvest STEM Academy that centers on inspiring youth to excel academically by exposing them to STEM-based projects, professions, and engineers in their community. The goal is for members of the church to share their STEM-related training and experience with the youth in the community and, in sharing that knowledge, encourage and inspire youth to pursue a STEM profession. Harvest UMC is both embracing its own abundance and creating abundance by stewarding potential in a generation of future leaders.
Harvest STEM Academy's reach is primarily focused on an adjacent apartment complex that runs the length of the church. The children and youth may not yet be members of Harvest UMC, but are very familiar with the church. From playing basketball on the church’s court to gathering on Wednesday night for suppers hosted by the church, their already-rooted relationships are budding. The congregation, however, felt called to nurture their relationships with the socioeconomically challenged youth in a new way. By creating a ministry that encourages the congregation to share their expertise with a group that would not likely have an opportunity to meet engineers in this capacity, Harvest has begun to blossom minds, expand conversation, and build confidence in the kids.
Reaching out to local youth about Harvest STEM Academy has proven successful thus far. The inaugural gathering was held in fall 2016 with about 10 in attendance. In addition to Lockheed Martin, representatives from Abbott Labs, Hanger, Frito Lay, and Nokia are serving through this inventive ministry. Looking forward, Harvest is partnering with a local non-profit to hold a coding class as well as an event with a representative from the city of Fort Worth. Through these new and novel events, Harvest hopes to expose these youth to different disciplines and career paths they may not have ever considered available to them while strengthening ministry and relationships with residents in the apartment complex and surrounding community.