Five years ago I met a woman who had just been hired as the children's ministry director of a Huntersville church. I was drawn to her immediately.
Perhaps it was her huge heart for children, the way she warmly and genuinely greeted the little ones who entered the ministry she so wanted to grow. Perhaps it was that we shared a similar background, both having lived and worked in New York.
Or it may have been that I watched her on TV when I was in college, when she was a daytime television actor. Or that she lived three doors down from me.
Within a year of our introduction, I was working beside her in children's ministry. We both loved the idea of using creative and performing arts to reach kids' hearts.
With the rest of her team, we learned about a family ministry philosophy called "Orange": If we can partner with parents to be the spiritual leaders of their families, the church and family can strategically work together.
The Orange philosophy of ministry works to unite two of the most powerful entities on the planet: the church and the family.
Combining the love of the home and family, represented by the color red, with yellow, the light of the church, produces orange. It symbolizes what it means to parent beyond your capacity. An Orange church helps parents understand that, by tapping into a wider community, they can have a larger effect on the lives of their children.
At the church where she worked then, Marcy Smith led a dynamic team of staff and volunteers. The growing children's ministry boasted an annual vacation Bible camp of more than 550 kids and consistently hosted more than 500 children each weekend.
Smith and her team attracted more and more families and volunteers. Many were professional actors and performers who wanted to give their gifts back to the church.
Sadly, it eventually became clear that the Orange philosophy was not a fit for that church.
But she never gave up hope. The Huntersville resident beileved there was a local church looking to go the Orange philosophy. She continued working, planning the vacation Bible camp. Previously the event had been free to the community, but this summer participants had to pay a fee, due to budget cuts.
Despite feeling discouraged, Smith and her team made the vacation Bible camp a great success and fun for all who attended. It took months of preparation. During camp week, she and her team arrived early in the morning to prepare and stayed late in the afternoon to clean up.
Good news came when Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Charlotte, which subscribes to the Orange philosophy, hired her as director of children's ministry.
Smith has been on staff at Good Shepherd for just a month and is excited about joining a fully Orange team. Some of her team members and key volunteers are following her to Good Shepherd United Methodist.