Partner Spotlight: Timberline Church

Kari Stewart headshot
For about as long as Finally Home has been around, we’ve had a partnership with Timberline Church in Northern Colorado. This partnership has evolved and expanded over time and has truly inspired the way we’re growing our support for churches of all sizes in 2024.

We had the opportunity to connect with Kari Stewart, Missions Pastor at Timberline, to talk about the ways that Finally Home supports the church and why this partnership is such an important part of the church’s ability to support foster, kinship, and adoptive families in the community.

About two years before Mark and Kristin Orphan moved to Colorado, my husband and I started an adoption, foster care and orphan care ministry here at Timberline Church called the ‘Welcome Child’ ministry. We were seeing a disheartening part of the foster and adoption journey, and that was how marriages were just getting ripped apart after saying ‘Yes’ to serving children in this way. My prayer was, “God please send someone, please send a resource that we could use as a ministry that would help families strengthen their marriage as they say ‘Yes’.”

We’d already seen two really great married couples get divorced after they said ‘Yes’ to adoption. They said there were things in their lives and in their marriages that were unresolved. Beginning the adoption journey and needing to parent kids who’ve been through trauma brought up these things in their own lives that were unresolved. So my prayer was just, “Lord, please send someone.” Then I met Mark and Kristen at a Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit.

Soon after, Mark and Kristen — and Finally Home — made the move to Fort Collins, CO, and Mark began working at Timberline Church. Finally Home started hosting its Family Strengthening Conferences at the church, and the relationship grew from there. What really excited Kari was that it wasn’t only the caregivers that Finally Home supported; Finally Home supported the whole family! These Family Strengthening Conferences were an opportunity for foster, adoptive, and kinship families in the community to get access to the resources they needed and gave the church team a way to support these families even though it was outside the church’s area of expertise.

Fast forward more than a decade, and the relationship is still going strong.

One of the ways this relationship empowers Kari and her team is being proactive with families that are saying ‘Yes’ to foster or adoption, or are considering it, BEFORE they have a child placed in their household.

As soon as I meet a family that’s thinking about fostering or adopting, even at the very beginning stages, I introduce them to Finally Home. I want these families to become acquainted with Finally Home now and know what resources are available to them. Because if you’re already a foster or adoptive parent, you’re in a place where you can’t even think about what you need.

You don’t need to have a foster or adoptive child in your home yet to start attending Finally Home events. You need to start building community at the very beginning, because community is the most beautiful thing. When you’re sitting at a table with someone who understands your situation, you realize you really aren’t crazy. There are other people who are going through this. That’s reassuring. You cannot talk to your friends if they’re not a foster, adoptive, or kinship family because they don’t know what it’s like to parent a child with trauma. But there’s something powerful about getting around the table with someone who knows what you’re going through, so that you can start building that safety net of support.

A lot of foster and adoptive families isolate because they’re embarrassed about what’s happening in their home, because they think it reflects on their parenting. I just want people to know that it’s not your parenting! It’s stuff that your child, who just came into your home, is bringing with them, and you need someone to talk to and not stuff your feelings or ignore them.

When it comes to supporting your church members, it can feel frustrating to see parents and children struggling and realize that you don’t have the training to serve them or the right resources to share. Because Timberline Church has a partnership with Finally Home, the church team is now empowered to serve their families well. As Finally Home’s resources and trainings expand, so does Timberline’s access to those tools to serve their families. For example, Timberline Church can now refer children or youth that may be struggling with mental health to Finally Home’s Revive and Thrive Family Support Initiative, which was launched in 2023.

Timberline Church also relies on Finally Home to train its staff. It’s extremely important to the church that no child is turned away. Finally Home’s instructor trainings help the team learn ways to support the children while in their care.

Finally Home has really broadened our ability to serve these families, enhanced the quality of care that we can provide, and really helped us be stronger. I always remind our team that standing before the church body on orphan care weekend is a big call. Every year, we talk about ways we can stand in the gap with vulnerable children in our community and around the world. When a family says ‘Yes’, we as a church cannot be in a place where we say, “Little Johnny cannot come to class here because we can’t handle his behavior.” Going through Finally Home training and using the resources that Finally Home created has helped strengthen our whole team We never want to tell a family that their child cannot come to church anymore.

Another way that Finally Home has expanded its service to churches is through the addition of its virtual membership, Resilient Roots. By partnering with Finally Home, churches are able to invite families into the membership at no cost to the families.

I absolutely love Resilient Roots because it’s instant support. Families don’t have to wait for training to come around. They can get on the website and access trainings immediately. We’ve shared with all of our foster and adoptive church families that we’ll pay for them to have a Resilient membership. Families can go to the site and find out what topic is most relevant to them at that moment, listen to it at their own pace, and what get what they need. I like that they don’t have to wait for an in-person event. They can listen and find even one nugget that they need that day, and then go back when they need to listen to something else, when need to refresh their memory and be encouraged. Because when we’re in the moment of crisis, we forget logical thinking. We just do. Our brain cells are scrambled and we’re not thinking clearly. Resilient Roots gives families instant access to the information they need, which is vital to their success as an individual, as a parent, and for their child’s well being.

With all of these incredible opportunities, what is Kari’s favorite part about Timberline’s partnership with Finally Home?

Mark and Kristen Orphan are real. They’re real! They’re not just educating people on something that they think is a great tool. They’re educating people on something that’s worked for them. They’re educating people on something that they’re passionate about. But they’re not just passionate about the curriculum. They’re passionate about the people on the other side of that screen, because they’ve been in their shoes, and they really weep for them. It’s not only that they’re kind or that they truly care, they truly weep for them. That comes through all the education tools that they created and genuine care of the individual who’s watching. Finally Home resources are tailored to the person that’s watching the screen or attending an event. Mark and Kristin aren’t just talking about situations, they’re talking about their personal experiences. And that’s incredibly impactful.

Timberline Church has a long history of supporting orphan care in Northern Colorado. If your church is newer to supporting these families, or feel that there isn’t this need in your community, Kari has this to say.

Regardless of your church size, it is well worth your time to get involved with Finally Home to stand in the gap with vulnerable children in your community. And I cannot state this enough, that it is not about “We don’t have enough money to do that”. It’s about using the resources you have available and what you can do with those resources. Maybe right now it’s about members of your church connecting with your foster and adoptive families, or those families within your county. It’s about saying, “We see you, how can we pray for you? How can we support you?” Even if it’s taking a foster or adoptive family a small breakfast or danishes. It’s just about finding out what is our role as a church in this, in God’s mandate to stand up and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Finding out what it looks like for us to get involved with this and realizing that everybody’s got a piece of the puzzle. And not to diminish your small piece, because it’s just as important as another bigger piece that another church is doing, because you’re doing it collectively.

Finally Home partners with churches in a variety of ways. To learn more about these options and what might be the best fit for your organization we’d love to connect. You can email Mark Orphan with any questions or if you’re interested in joining us.

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