Roan Mountain church hosts story-telling program

When schools close down for the summer, more than just students empty the halls, including the educational programs many students rely on in order to keep up year-to-year. Without them, many students inevitably fall behind, especially in areas like reading. Local churches, however, are working to stem that decline.

Children and parents alike gathered at Roan Mountain United Methodist Church Friday to take part in story-telling and more as the summer months continue.

Pastor Brent Nidiffer said he came up with the reading program after seeing a promotional sign in front of an elementary school, encouraging children to continue to read during the summer.

“Where can they go to read?” Nidiffer said. “The school is closed during the summer.”

This problem gets worse, as Nidiffer said the nearest public libraries are significant distances from Roan Mountain, so he wanted to do something in his church to help alleviate this concern.

This was where the grant money came into the picture.

“We received a grant from the Holston Foundation: Change for Children,” he said.

This grant money led the church to come up with their story-telling program.

This is the program’s third week at the church. In it, children gathered to sing songs and dance around the pews. Each week, a community leader appears as a special guest to read from a children’s book to those present. This week, it was a member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The children also got to see the inside of a police car and got to play games like “Pin the badge on the police officer.”

Nidiffer said they like to make each week its own theme to keep things interesting.

“I am pleased to see the opportunity to encourage reading skills in them,” he said. “The schools have been very supportive.”

As the pastor, he said he feels programs like this further their goals as a congregation.

“This shows the church is mission-minded,” Nidiffer said. “We see the need and fill it.”

He said he doesn’t want his church to focus too much on the spiritual matters when there are chances to help develop children into responsible adults.

“We are not narrowed down to a religious entity,” he said. “We want to help develop the whole person […] supporting human development and capability to its greatest level.”

He said this need to provide reading opportunities for the children of Roan Mountain is important to fill, and it allows children and parents alike to connect in the process.

The program will run every Friday at 11 a.m. until the last week of July.

Roan Mountain United Methodist is located at 205 Main St.

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