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 about God and about life.
PHOTOS BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
By DAPHNE TAYLOR
Special for South Florida Times
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 for TABKIDS, which is housed at the church’s newly opened Ulysses B. Kinsey Community Center. The late Kinsey was a highly respected former Palm Beach County school educator, a member of the church and an advocate for 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, conference room, and full kitchen that can be used for community events, banquets, meetings and more. The church has a collaboration with Palm Beach Atlantic University which does tutoring at the center. Collaborations with Florida Atlantic University and the Northwest Community Consortium are underway.
The facility 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 perfect for 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 foundation to stand upon,” she said. “When you look around the neighborhood of our church, you see a lot of kids just wandering 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 information, call 561-832-8338.