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Jaide Soppe, 8, makes a fleece blanket for a Springfield shelter on Children's Ministry Day March 15.

Jaide Soppe, 8, makes a fleece blanket for a Springfield shelter on Children’s Ministry Day March 15.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

For the fourth consecutive year, kids and their leaders served across Illinois  through Children’s Ministry Day, a one-day missions experience that culminates with a celebration service at each project site.

Created by national Woman’s Missionary Union, the day of service for kids has taken on a life of its own in Illinois. Nearly 1,100 children, leaders and volunteers representing 75 churches served at nine locations around the state on March 15.

This year’s theme, “Make a Splash,” came from Matthew 10:42, where Jesus says, “And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple – I assure you: He will never lose his reward!”

Children’s Ministry Day is now IBSA’s most successful mission involvement activity, said Mark Emerson, who leads the organization’s missions team. The event has grown in number of locations and participants each year since 2011, when he organized the first set of projects in Springfield. Local associations began hosting the projects last year, and the service day expanded to nine cities in 2014, including first-time locations Bridgeport, Chicago, Decatur, Granite City and Peoria.

“I think more churches identify that this is a high impact project with an easy engagement possibility,” Emerson said. “The logistics of the day are already complete, so all the church has to do is to figure out how to get the kids enlisted, and get the kids to the event.”

Pastor David Brown has led kids from his church, Dow Southern Baptist, to Children’s Ministry Day each of the last four years. Standing outside an urban ministry center in Springfield, he recalled each of their projects: making baby blankets, baking cookies for police officers, visiting with nursing home residents, and this year, raking leaves and sorting donated supplies.

“This is one of the best events that we can do, because we’re starting at a foundational age,” Brown said. His fourth grade daughter, Cameryn, accompanied him to Springfield this year and has participated in every Children’s Ministry Day.

“And if they fall in love with serving when they’re kids,” Brown said, “they’re going to keep serving when they’re teens, and hopefully when they’re adults and grandparents. It’s foundational; it’s what the church is all about.” Read more here.

Other news:

Franklin Graham on Putin’s policies
America has “abdicated our moral leadership,” Franklin Graham wrote in this month’s issue of Decision Magazine. The son of evangelist Billy Graham said that converse to the current U.S. administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin is right to want to protect his country’s children from a homosexual agenda. (Graham’s comments came before Russia’s controversial action in Crimea.)

“To be clear, I am not endorsing President Putin,” Graham wrote. “…His enemies say he is ruthless. To some, he is a modern version of a czar. His personal life has its own controversies.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue – protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda – Russia’s standard is higher than our own?” Read the full story at BillyGraham.org.

KJV is king of translations
Americans read the King James Version of the Bible more often than any other version, according to a new national survey on “The Bible in American Life.” The research, from the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, found just over half of Americans (50.2%) read Scripture in the past year, and 17% of those did so daily. The KJV was read most often by 55% of respondents, followed by the NIV at 19%. Read more findings here.

Bible Drill for the digital age
There’s an app for that – Scripture memorization, that is. The Georgia Baptist Convention has developed a Bible Drill app for smartphones and tablets designed to help kids learn verses and review Bible books. “We hope to have a whole new generation of children who will have a passion for studying God’s Word,” said GBC state missionary Maria Brannen. The app is available from iTunes for $0.99. Read the full story at BPNews.net.

Your mood in tweets
Twitter can tell us a lot about how people are feeling, according to data released by the social media giant this month. The network analyzed words used in tweets throughout 2013, noting when “feeling sad” occurs most often (December Sundays and October Mondays), as well as when users are “feeling happy” (Tuesdays in December or January).

Twitter measured tardiness too: Users were most likely to tweet “late for work” on Wednesdays and Fridays in January, and Monday through Wednesday in July. Read more at Twitter’s blog.