By Holly Schoenstein
A ministry program for Tallmadge Middle School and High School students after the high school’s home football games on Fridays is continuing to grow. “EndZone, Tallmadge Fifth Quarter,” a program of First Church of God in Tallmadge, Ohio, takes place at the church after all of the high school’s home football games from 8:30 PM to 11:45 PM. October 9 and October 30 are the last program dates for this season.
The church is located at 464 Northeast Avenue. Admission is free for students in grades six to twelve and their parents, if they choose to attend.
Program coordinator Susan Walter got the idea for the program from a church in her hometown in Indiana, but the program in Tallmadge took on its own life. “Our purpose really stems from a desire to serve young people. So many students these days are searching for someone to acknowledge their presence, to provide them with positive feedback just for being who they are,” she said.
“Teenagers carry a lot of stresses. EndZone helps them blow off a little steam in a healthy way,” she continued. “We have a prayer request envelope where the kids can request prayer, anonymously if they want to, for anything that is weighing on them. We want them to know someone cares about them.”
The program began last football season.
“Our original focus was to provide a positive, safe environment for the middle and high school students to go to after each home game. On our first night we had forty-three students, and by the end of the season, our highest student total was in the nineties,” Walter said. “The season was a huge success not only in number, but more importantly because we began connecting with the students and their parents. Parent response has been exceedingly positive.”
Many students who participated last season have returned, and the program continues to attract new students. The headcount after the first football game this season was 124 students, with the highest attendance so far at 154 students.
“This year our focus to provide a positive, safe environment remains the same, but we realize this is a way of ministering to and serving our community,” Walter said. “We have partnered with numerous businesses in Tallmadge to provide food, drinks, and door prizes. They have generously donated all we need for each of the six game nights this season. It has been overwhelming to see how the Lord is blessing this ministry and the Tallmadge community at large.”
Adults from the church volunteer to help with setting up, praying for the students and local businesses, and hanging out during the events.
Students can participate in a variety of games, from Nukem, a form of volleyball played with two balls, and gaga ball, which is similar to dodgeball, to table games, including pool and air hockey. Other activities include corn hole, Giant Jenga, a game show similar to Family Feud, video games, playing the piano, nail painting, and making spirit posters.
“My hope for EndZone is to continue it year after year, building personal relationships with as many students as we are able,” Walter said. “It is crucial they understand they have value just as they are. That is why so many adults from our congregation have committed to spending their Friday nights greeting, feeding, playing games, and hanging out with the students. We believe investing in their lives is worth giving our time, worth giving our hearts.”
First Church of God in Tallmadge also encourages members of the community to come for a worship service on Sunday mornings at 10:45 AM.
Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.
Holly Schoenstein is a reporter for Record Publishing Company. Article was originally published in the Tallmadge Express. Republished by permission.