Accepting All Children

Many years ago I worked for a residential treatment center for homeless and delinquent youth in a small town in Missouri. Every Sunday we took our children to a local church. It frankly was hard to find a church who would accept our “family” because our kids did not act or dress or come from the same family backgrounds as everyone else in this small town.

The fifth boy who joined our “family” was an African American youngster from KC. This small town in the late 1960’s was still very segregated so I called the pastor of our church to tell him that we were bringing this young boy with us. He said that would be fine but to call him when we left home so he could meet us in the church parking lot.

When we arrived at church the pastor met us and walked our new child down the church aisle with his arms around his shoulder. As people in the pews saw what was happening, the church became silent and almost immediately about one-third of the members quickly and in outright disgust, using very crude language, vacated the church in protest. They were not willing to attend church with an African American child. The pastor did not preach too long that morning because the folks that stayed in the pews had already demonstrated they understood his sermon message – to be accepting and welcoming of all God’s children.

Our pastor was Jim Spainhower (who later became the State Treasurer of Missouri). Jim recently celebrated a “significant” birthday and I wanted to acknowledge him for his act of kindness to my “family” many years ago. His message of accepting and welcoming all God’s children still needs to be emphasized and practiced in today’s society.


Steve, I accidentally ran across your blog as I was trying to locate information on past Children's Trust Fund (CTF) Board Chairs. Your readers may or may not know that Jim Spainhower was actually appointed as the first Chair of the CTF Board of Directors back in 1983 and helped to mold and build CTF to the successful prevention organization it is today. Thank you for sharing this very inspiring and moving story which I in turn shared with our current board chair. Both Dr. Spainhower's and your vision for children is one in which we should all embrace and practice. Kirk Schreiber

Steve, thanks for the kind words you wrote about my father. As a child I vividly remember going to the Ranch with dad when he baptized some of the boys in a pond! I have always admired both of my parents for their unwavering commitment to fairness, equality and justice. - Janet Spainhower Martin

This story, above all, conveys such a strong message of HOPE for our society. The focus of this story is not those who left the church, but who stayed. Those who have acceptance in their hearts, who are able to stand up for their beliefs and accept all people as children of God are the ones who voted change into this country. I am thrilled to be a part of history in this moment, where acceptance and hope is the standard, and not the exception. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story and continuing to inspire all us!

What a touching story. I can remember my father relaying a similar instance in his life and that story has stuck with me to this day, helping shape the person I am and the person I work to be.Glad I found the blog. I'll be keeping tabs from here on out.-J

That is a testimony to two great individuals. I worked for one and work with the other. Our state could not have better representatives of the values of our state that Jim Spainhower and Steve Roling. Bob Holden

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.