The focus of our ministry has always been caring for kids, so no one knows better than our team at Embrace Alabama Kids how easy it is to outgrow certain things.
After all, children outgrow their shoes, clothing, toys, and personal interests so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. The agency’s staff have run into a similar challenge the past few years when talking with supporters. “The Children’s Home,” as it has been referred to for so many years, is no longer the single, campus-based ministry it once was but rather a vast network of many programs in many locations.
“The name served us well for a number of years, but after decades of adding ministry programs including foster care, family preservation, adoption services and others, it became evident we had outgrown our name,” said Dr. Blake Horne, President and CEO.
“In order to better represent what we have become, we simply took our mission of ‘embracing and nurturing vulnerable children’ and placed it in our name.”
The move follows a similar name change for the organization’s Northwest Florida-based ministry, which became Embrace Florida Kids last year. “The feedback we’ve received thus far in Florida, and now Alabama, has been overwhelmingly positive and is eliminating what was once a communication barrier,” Horne said.
This is not the first name change for the ministry, which originated as the Alabama Methodist Orphanage in 1890. It was renamed the Methodist Children’s Home in 1939 and then became the United Methodist Children’s Home in 1968 prior to becoming Embrace Alabama Kids this year. Through each transition, the organization has grown stronger and adapted to the specific needs of children in its day and time.
“One of the strengths of our organization has been our adaptability,” Horne said.
“When you have a ministry like ours that spans 131 years, the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children evolve greatly over time to meet the societal issues of each progressive period. By God’s grace we’ve been able to continually match those needs in significant and relevant ways.”
Today, the organization’s leadership recognizes that there is more than one way to surround children and youth with God’s love while also ensuring their safety and well-being. Whether it’s through training and supporting foster families or providing biological families with the support they need to stay together, the ministry has the same resolve it did when it first began.
Despite such growth, Horne acknowledged that, similar to a child trying on a new pair of shoes, there will still be some growing room. “It will take some time to grow into our new name and even feel comfortable in it,” Horne said. “However, we are blessed with incredibly generous supporters, and I’m confident they will help us rise to the occasion.”