King’s Collaborates with Eight City Ministries in Sixth Annual Day of Service

On Saturday, January 25, 159 students, staff, faculty, and alumni of The King’s College participated in the Sixth Annual King’s Day of Service, a day-long initiative to confront the spiritual and material needs of New Yorkers.

Students serving in NYC
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On Saturday, January 25, 159 students, staff, faculty, and alumni of The King’s College participated in the Sixth Annual King’s Day of Service, a day-long initiative to confront the spiritual and material needs of New Yorkers across the city. This year, King’s partnered with eight local ministries, four of which were new partnerships.

Joey and Kylie Willis, Christian formation coordinators, alongside Taylor Dickerson (JCS ’20), 2019-20 student Service Coordinator, organized the Day of Service this year. Dickerson researched and discovered several of the new ministries with which King’s partnered this year. These include City Harvest Mobile Market, a mobile market which provides fresh produce and healthy cooking demonstrations to the needy; KEEN New York, an organization committed to providing free and fun exercise programming for kids (of all ages and ability); City Meals on Wheels, a ministry which delivers food to residents who have a difficult time leaving their apartments; and the NYC Relief Bus, a program which uses a refurbished school bus to serve curbside meals, clothing distribution, and work/housing resources in spots around the city.

William Comer (Humanities ’22) served with one of these new partners, KEEN New York. Comer was paired with a developmentally-challenged 13 year-old named Bobby,* and they ran around the gym, played catch, and shot hoops for an hour together on Saturday. Comer said, “At the end of the open gym time at KEEN, all of the participants gather in a circle and share what they did during the playtime. My assigned athlete Bobby described the fun he had shooting hoops and playing catch, it was amazing to see how such a simple interaction could bring so much joy.”

Over the past two years, Joey and Kylie Willis have met with and developed relationships with several of both the existing and new ministry partners. The King’s College’s relationship with Father’s Heart Ministries, a ministry which offers many programs to help the needy, including a soup kitchen and food pantry, began through a friend of the Willises from church. Joey and Kylie Willis also helped the House of Clara Barton and the House of Margaret Thatcher get connected to new service partners in the city, God’s Love We Deliver and Father’s Heart Ministries.

Annie Mae Jones (RTS ’20), the current president of the House of Thatcher, led a group of Thatcher girls to serve at Father’s Heart on Saturday. Thatchers were grouped into prayer teams and tasked with praying with those who came into Father’s Heart that morning. Jones shares, “The most memorable thing about serving at Father’s Heart is their effort in building relationships with the people they serve. It was very common for visitors going through the line to pass a regular volunteer and know [his or her] name. One man even gave one of the volunteers a fist-bump.”

Participants in the Day of Service also served at the New York Gospel Mission (NYGM) and The Bowery Mission on January 25, alongside the new ministry partners. King’s has a long-standing relationship with NYGM, a church in Chelsea which runs a weekly food pantry which serves hundreds in need, and with The Bowery Mission, a mission which has provided meals, shelter, and clothing to homeless and hungry New Yorkers since the 1870s.

Eddie VanZandt (PPE ’20) helped to distribute food at NYGM on Saturday. VanZandt has participated in the Day of Service for the past four years, some years even serving more than one shift. This year, VanZandt met Chad, who is “… a pastor and newcomer to NYC who’s been working with NYGM for a couple of months now. He was able to tell me more of the big picture details that King’s once-a-year shift contributes to. NYGM – one lone church in the middle of this huge city – gives out more than $2 million worth of food to the homeless and impoverished every year, feeding several thousand people during the course of the year. Working one NYGM shift every year and seeing only a few dozen people each time, I was amazed.”

Kimchean Koy (MCA ’20) also served at NYGM and helped to paint a large Sunday School room. The pastor at NYGM showed the painting team around the building before they got to the room they would be painting, and explained the history of the church to the group. Koy said, “I really appreciated the pastor telling us about the history of the building and its perseverance against the forces trying to tear it down over the years.”

Students paint church
King’s students painted a large Sunday School room on the second floor of New York Gospel Ministries (Manor Community Church).

Students paint church

This year, the Student Development team decided to include student participation in the Day of Service as one of the House competitions (alongside the Great Race, Drama Comp, GPA Comp, House History, and Interregnum) for House Cup. Joey Willis explained that this decision came through Student Development’s consideration of the purpose of House competitions. Willis said, “We want the House Competitions to be indicative of what we value as a community. The GPA Comp celebrates classroom learning. Interregnum celebrates creative expression. House namesake/history celebrates our system for community camaraderie. We wanted to express that King’s values service and celebrate the already existing reality that King’s students engage, serve, and learn from the community of NYC.”

Willis acknowledged that some in the King’s community have expressed that making the Day of Service a competition could cheapen the service, but he explained that this has not been his experience. Willis said,

I met Kylie doing service; I know God infinitely better for the people I have met and the stories I have heard from Father’s Heart, The Relief Bus, Bowery, etc. Service has been the single most beneficial enterprise in my life – The Bible says you have to lose your life to find it – and that has been true for me. Service is not just about losing your life. It is about re-orienting what it means to find it. We knew there would be some pushback, but at the end of the day, Student Development views House competition as an opportunity to celebrate what is best about King’s and King’s students – and service definitely fits into those parameters.

*Name changed for privacy

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