Spir­i­tu­al­ity within and with­out walls

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It seems the his­toric Taber­na­cle Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church in West Palm Beach con­tin­ues to lead the pack in im­ple­ment­ing in­no­va­tive pro­grams and his­toric ven­tures. Re­cently, the church made his­tory by in­stalling its first fe­male min­is­ter on the min­is­te­rial staff in over 100-plus years. This time, it's TABKIDS, a new pro­gram de­signed to meet the needs of fam­i­lies in the church, as well as the in­ner city neigh­bor­hood sur­round­ing the church, which has been un­der the lead­er­ship of its se­nior pas­tor, Ger­ald D. Kis­ner, for over 20 years. The pro­gram, which started in Fe­bru­ary, cur­rently ser­vices kids in grades Pre-K through 5th grade who at­tend the church. How­ever, the church plans to ex­pand through­out the com­mu­nity to pro­vide ser­vices to 4050 chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, said pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor Kar­lene Stevens.

TABKIDS aims to teach these young chil­dren about God and to pre­pare them for life. They learn bi­ble verses, the Lord's prayer, sing, watch videos and have a hearty lunch. But the goal is to teach them tolean on their faith to nav­i­gate chal­leng­ing con­di­tions at home and in their neigh­bor­hoods.

The pro­gram's vi­sion­ary, Rev. Kevin Jones, as­sis­tant pas­tor said the 21stcen­tury black church has to do more than min­is­ter within the walls of the church ed­i­fice.

He said churches must be­come in­no­va­tive, creative, and reach the unchurched -- his ultimate mis­sion f or TABKIDS, which is housed at the church's newly opened Ulysses B. Kin­sey Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. T he late Kin­sey was a highly re­spected f ormer Palm Beach County school ed- uca­tor, a mem­ber of the church and an ad­vo­cate f or ed­u­cat­ing black chil­dren. Lo­cated in the same com­mu­nity as the church is the U. B. Kin­sey el­e­men­tary school where he served as prin­ci­pal.

Built with funds do­nated by busi­ness­man, Jeff Ja­cobs, the com­mu­nity cen­ter is equipped with a huge ball­room, class­rooms, conf er­ence room, and full kitchen that can be used f or com­mu­nity events, ban­quets, meet­ings and more. T he church has a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Palm Beach At­lantic Uni­ver­sity which does tu­tor ing at the cen­ter. Col­lab­o­ra­tions with Flor ida At­lantic Uni­ver­sity and the North­west Com­mu­nity Con­sor­tium are un­der­way.

The f acil­ity was built with a large do­na­tion from busi­ness­man Jeff Ja­cobs, a long­time ac­quain­tance of the Pas­tor. Ja­cobs wanted to demon­strate to his chil­dren the im­por­tance of giv­ing back and he ap­proached Rev. Kis­ner with the de­sire to make a siz­able do­na­tion to the church. Kis­ner has pre­vi­ously said it the cen­ter was perf ect f or the church and the needs of the com­mu­nity.

"We wanted to build a space where kids could ex­pe­ri­ence God on their level and in a way that they could re­late. It's all about the kids and meet­ing their needs and teach­ing them about God in a way they can un­der­stand," said Jones, the pro­gram's brain­child.

TABKIDS co­or­di­na­tor, Stevens, said the pro­gram is vi­tal. "It's im­por­tant be­cause we want to teach kids that God should be the cen­ter of their lives. This pro­gram will give them a solid f oun­da­tion to stand upon," she said. "When you look around the neigh­bor­hood of our church, you see a lot of kids just wan­der ing and walk­ing around look­ing for some­thing to do. If we can bring in the kids, we can bring in their par­ents and thus we're im­pact­ing the whole com­mu­nity. That's our goal."

TABKIDS op­er­ates three Sun­days out of the month from 9:30am un­til noon. For more inf or­ma­tion, call 561-832-8338.

PHO­TOS BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLOR­IDA TIMES

Rev­erend Kevin Jones, As­sis­tant Pas­tor at Taber­na­cle Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church in West Palm Beach, shows off the newly opened U.B. Kin­sey Ed­u­ca­tional and Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, where he cre­ated TABKIDS, an in­no­va­tive pro­gram for chil­dren that teaches them...

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