A History of Embracing Kids Through Multiple Pandemics
By K. Blake Horne, Ph.D., UMCH President & CEO
In 1890, when the orphanage that would later become known as the United Methodist Children’s Home first opened its doors, the world was in the middle of a global flu pandemic. Known as the Russian flu, it would ultimately kill more than 1 million people.
As newspaper headlines chronicled death tolls and fears, the focus at the Alabama Methodist Orphanage in Summerfield, Alabama was on children with no family to care for them.
Here we are in 2020, and as UMCH celebrates our 130th anniversary of loving God’s children, we find ourselves in much the same situation as the founders of our ministry. There’s fear, confusion, sadness and sickness in the world, but our focus remains on providing homes, healing and hope to the hurting children and youth in our care.
Much has changed in UMCH’s history over the past 130 years. There have been name changes, building changes and operational changes, but through it all, one thing has remained constant. The United Methodist Children’s Home has always been committed to providing a safe, loving Christian environment so thousands and thousands of children could find new beginnings.
Since 1890, we’ve stood in the gap for the most vulnerable of children. The kids we serve have experienced hardships most of us can’t even fathom. They’ve been abused, neglected and abandoned. We can’t change the wrongs they’ve experienced in the past but we can do what’s right in hopes of changing their futures.
Just like everyone raising children, we’ve had to find new ways to do our job during this pandemic. It’s not unchartered territory for us, though. Throughout our history, we’ve loved children through wars, depressions and terrorist attacks. Long before anyone heard of COVID-19, we kept them safe during outbreaks of the Spanish flu and polio.
We may not be the traditional family that most children and youth dream of, but if the definition of “family” is a group of people who love, care and support you no matter what’s in the news, our kids are covered. Thank you for being an important part of their family and ours.