By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
It first came to the attention of Terri Haywood shortly after the 2011 tornado. The plight of a single mother could be no more evident to the Royal Heights United Methodist Church pastor than that of one Joplin woman who lost her husband, home and car to the tornado. In addition, the new single mom was left with four children to raise on her own.
In the process of ministering to tornado victims at a temporary village set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Haywood and a member of her congregation, Cheryl Brock, came to realize what single moms confront in life, especially after a catastrophe.
"We would go out, and one thing I noticed as we went door to door was that every time we did everyone would come back with a story, and those stories were most generally about a single mom," Haywood said. "They were trying to cope with all the things they were facing."
That got the pastor and Brock, a single mother herself, thinking. They knew they had to do something on behalf of the church.
The answer became more apparent as Haywood attended the annual United Methodist Church conference in Springfield. As she wandered from one vendor's booth to another, she came upon one by the Caring People, a Christian organization based in Branson that has a heart for single moms.
The organization proved to be a perfect fit for Haywood and her church, and the idea of starting a single moms' ministry took shape.
After going through a Caring People training event in Springfield, Haywood prepared to get her church started down the road to helping single mothers. That is exactly what Royal Heights UMC will do beginning with its first single moms meeting on Thursday.
A light meal and snacks will be served at 6 p.m. Afterward, activities will be provided for children while the meeting for single moms, led by Brock with Haywood's assistance, runs from 6:30 to 7:30.
"We hope to give these women an outlet to develop some self esteem," Brock said. "This can be a sounding board for single mothers to give them support. It will give them an opportunity to brainstorm ideas on how to do better parenting."
The bottom line will be to give them a sense of not being alone in single parenting, said Brock, who is not only a single parent but was also raised in a single-parent household.
Single women need love, support, acceptance and understanding, said Brock, who also stressed the hope that some of them will be able to get more help through a closer relationship with God.
"The whole family dynamic will be so much richer and much more healthy with a relationship like that," she said.
Being single should not define a single mom as a person, Brock emphasized.
"You are still a child of God, and you are not defined by your marital status," she said. "How you represent Christ through your family is what we are hoping to get across to any mom who finds herself single and raising children."
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.