We are thrilled to welcome Cheryl McKeon - already known to many in our community because she led our neighborhood engagement efforts for the past three years. She has been working with children for the past 15 years, holds a Master’s degree in Education and raised her own four children to young adulthood. Cheryl sees parents and teachers as partners in raising Godly children, and she knows the importance of encouragement in the challenges.
Where are you from and how did you come to faith in Christ?
I am a self-described global nomad who has landed in Falls Church again (I was married at St. James Catholic Church 27 years ago) after spending many years living in five foreign countries. My husband’s Foreign Service career catapulted me from a California beach girl to a seasoned traveler with a heart for the world.
I came to faith while studying the life of Paul from a mountaintop in Turkey. Somehow despite my Catholic upbringing, I had never understood that God’s grace was for me personally. Life abroad with four very young children certainly reminded me of my need for that saving love of Jesus. Paul’s letters and Beth Moore’s down-to-earth delivery of truth showed me what unconditional love and redemption looked like in real life. And, I quickly committed my life to abiding in Him. My love for the Lord has been my anchor ever since and has inspired me to lead women’s fellowship groups that focus on serving our communities while studying God’s Word together. God used these opportunities to teach me many lessons while He blessed me with friends across the continents.
What brought you to The Falls Church Anglican? How long have you been part of our church family?
Admittedly, my first impression of The Falls Church Anglican, in the fall of 2014, was that it was too big compared to my underground church life in Saudi. So, our family enjoyed the teaching and fellowship at Restoration Anglican for six months before moving to this church so that our teenage sons could experience Cornerstone. Shortly thereafter, I accepted the part-time position on staff on the Outreach team, which morphed into full-time work and now into this chance to incorporate my vocational, educational and faith experience as an encouragement to the body of Christ.
How do you see this new role as Children and Family Ministry Director integrating with your previous role in Discipleship and Outreach? What will your new role entail?
Our neighborhood engagement efforts have been bearing the fruit of growing friendships, especially with the families at the Willston Multicultural Center. Relationships lead to invitations, and we will be seeing more new friends from the local community coming to see what we are all about. In Children and Family Ministry, we may get to be a family's first interaction with the church, so we have an opportunity to practice radical hospitality. It isn't enough to talk about being a good neighbor, it is more important to model it, and children are wonderful ambassadors.
This role offers me the privilege of loving and guiding our current church families with children under the age of 11, as well as fostering a welcoming community for newcomers. We will continue to keep our children safe using the DOMA guidelines for regular trainings, refine our Sunday School and Children’s Church curriculum, find weekday alternatives for fellowship and teaching, offer summer vacation Bible school, provide regular family-friendly outreach opportunities and trips, nurture volunteers in community, and be a place where children will know that we are disciples by His love (John 13:35).
What first sparked your interest in ministering to children? And, more specifically, the children at The Falls Church Anglican?
I have always been amazed at their capacity for love and wonder, and I feel privileged to participate with them in the delight of life. As for children at The Falls Church Anglican, they are the sons and daughters of friends and they are my church family. I know that if they have Jesus, they will have a joy and peace that they will not outgrow through the trials of growing up.
How has your perspective shifted since raising and discipling your own children?
I used to want worldly success for my children, great test scores, a good education, a lucrative livelihood, a good spouse, a home etc. What I realize now is that they can have all of that and still be miserable if they don't have a living, breathing relationship with God though Jesus Christ. So now, I want that relationship for them more than all of those other things. As the song says, "Just Give Me (and them) Jesus."
What is your prayer and hope for the children of The Falls Church Anglican in the coming years?
That they would: 1) experience the unconditional love of the Father; 2) live fully and courageously, knowing who they are in Christ; 3) be equipped and empowered for service and mission.
How can volunteers get involved to help you in this ministry? And, what book do you think would be a good resource for anyone involved in discipling children?
As the whole body of Christ is called to bring up the little ones in faith, there is something that everyone can do to bless this ministry. We desire supportive teammates (volunteers) for a variety of tasks, occasionally or weekly:
-Hospitality for our Sunday School teachers
-Administrative/technical/materials support for projects
-Special event leadership teams (Blast, Christmas Eve, Easter, Neighborhood Engagement)
-Parent Advisory Team
-Substitute Sunday School teachers
-Regular Sunday School teachers
-Loving arms to hold babies and toddlers
I recommend the book What’s So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancey. Awareness of the outpouring of grace and love we receive from the Father keeps us humble and reminds us of how much we need Jesus. Grace is like glue for all of our relationships.