“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Thornwell has always been a ministry of the Presbyterian Church through its connections to local churches and presbyteries, and its covenant agreement with the Synod of South Atlantic. We believe there can be no wholeness in a person unless the soul is at peace with God. For many of our children, Thornwell is their first exposure to God and to a family that loves and cares for them. For that reason, faith development permeates every aspect of our services. We specifically provide a number of opportunities to help our children and staff to grow in their faith.
Middle school and high school youth in our residential program participate in our Youth Group. We use an Up, In, and Out approach that includes:
- Focusing on our relationship with God during Worship Night at Heritage Fellowship (Up)
- Working on strengthening relationships in our community of faith (In)
- Asking ourselves, “How can we tell others about Jesus?” This is our chance to participate in food outreach, mission projects, caroling, and more. (Out)
Bible Class meets on Monday nights in our church in the fall to prepare for the Christmas program on campus. Children learn about the Birth Narrative and have the opportunity to participate in the program through singing, scripture reading, candle lighting, and other creative ideas. In the spring, Bible Class meets in the Marshall Activities Center (MAC) on Monday nights for “Learning to use my Bible” class. Here, children learn basic Bible principles, scripture, and God’s love.
We have worship on campus throughout the year based on the season. In the summer, we meet every Friday for a fellowship lunch in the dining hall. On the last Friday of the month, we stay after for worship. During the fall we get back into the swing of the school year and have dinner followed by worship for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The next season is our Spring Campus Worship Series. We meet for coffee fellowship at 9:30 am in the MAC, and worship begins at 10:00 am. Music is provided by campus musicians, and preachers are invited from the community. We also have a spirituality center for the monthly worship service during lent. Other services are held on campus for Founders Day, funerals, Board of Visitors, and other occasions.
Chapel is held in each of the classes at our 4K and Early Head Start Program. During chapel, children are taught basic Bible stories and songs about God’s love. The children receive the Jesus Storybook Bible as a gift from Thornwell. They also perform a few chapel songs at their end of the year program for parents.
Big Brother/Big Sister & Adopt a Cottage
Presbyterian College is located right across the street from our residential campus. PC students participate in Big Brother/Big Sister with the children on our campus. This is a relationship-building and mentoring program. Students are assigned to a cottage and visit the cottage each week. The students form special bonds with the children in their cottage and do fun activities such as:
- Walking over to the PC dining hall for dinner
- Painting finger nails
- Playing soccer
- And all sorts of creative things kids like doing
In addition, PC hosts a Fall Festival, Valentine’s Day Party, and Easter Egg Hunt for Big and Little Siblings to meet up.
Adopt a Cottage
Adopt a Cottage is an opportunity for fraternities, sororities, and registered student organizations to participate in larger events. Typically these groups are assigned to a cottage and do one event per semester. This could include a soccer game where the team brings over jerseys for Thornwell children, helping a girl cottage get ready for a school dance, or a themed party.
During the summer months, we open the MAC every Wednesday for fun activities. The children rule the day and if they want to paint, we pant; if they want to play basketball, we play basketball; and if they want to watch a movie… you get the picture.
It is a fun time when kids just get to be kids and Family Teachers get a little break. Volunteer groups who are on campus for week long mission projects often help in the MAC during recreation time. The pool is open from Memorial Day – Labor Day and is the hot spot on campus (or rather the cool down spot). The children participate in swim lessons in the morning three days a week all summer long. The pool is open seven days a week.
The kids are super-excited about summer 2017 because our pool underwent a huge renovation during the off-season. Other activities are hosted by volunteer groups in the afternoons after they finish their work. Highlights from summer 2016 include:
- Giant chess game made and donated by a group
- Slip-and-slide kick ball with supplies donated by a group
- Numerous s’mores nights.
Children of all ages have the opportunity to go to summer camp. Each child may choose one traditional summer camp and one mission experience summer camp. Traditionally our children go to our Presbytery’s Camp called Camp Fellowship and BSYC: Bethany Summer Youth Camp.
These two camps are great because Camp Fellowship is only 30 minutes down the road. That makes children feel comfortable if they have never been to spend-the-night camp before. BSYC is hosted at a church we attend. Camp Fellowship also offers day camp for younger children. At Camp Fellowship, children experience a variety of activities such as:
- Swimming in Lake Greenwood
BSYC is hosted by Bethany Presbyterian Church and is a mission camp focused on helping the Laurens County community. Kids get to sign up for different teams, and they camp out at Bethany Presbyterian Church. Some of our older youth have attended Snowbird Summer Camp. This camp is priceless in our eyes because high school boys beg to go back every year. This camp is focused on youth building their relationship with Christ. Yes, you read that right: High school boys beg to go back every year!
Meet Our Director of Faith Formation and Christian Nurture
Jenn Stanley serves as a Chaplin to our staff and on the residential campus. She gathers weekly prayers from staff in all three states and leads prayer on campus where all are invited to attend. She is present whenever staff or children have a need, including:
- spiritual counseling
- Hospital visits
- Special Bible studies
Jenn conducts faith Interviews with each new child on our residential campus to determine where the child is in their faith journey. That information is then reported to their file so family teachers can access the information and start a solid foundation in the cottage. All children receive a Bible when they’re admitted to residential care at Thornwell. Jenn is on call 24/7 for the needs of our children and staff.
More about Jenn
Jenn is a graduate of Presbyterian College and no stranger to Thornwell. During her four years at PC, Jenn volunteered with the Thornwell Youth Group and served as a Big Sister. She graduated from PC with degrees in Religion and Christian Education and a minor in Psychology. Jenn was a member of the Women’s Golf Team and Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. She served as the Moderator of Celtic Cross (student group exploring calls to ministry) and the Presbyterian Student Association.
Jenn is a cradle Presbyterian and is an ordained Elder and commissioned Stephen Minister. She loves the church and her call to Thornwell came while she was serving as the Youth Minister at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC after college. Her faith was nurtured from birth at Webster Presbyterian Church in Texas where astronaut and church Elder, Buzz Aldrin, took communion on the moon as an extension of that congregation – ask her to tell you the story!
Her heart for mission has taken her all over the United States on mission trips as well as internationally to Kenya. Jenn worked with The Outreach Foundation to help build churches through the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and a dining hall and dorm at a rescue center for girls. The second time she went to Kenya, she lived with a Kenyan woman and her two children in a small village where she helped to open a home for children who weren’t performing in school because they were so hungry or did not have the funds to go to school at all. Jenn says she left a piece of her heart in Kenya and hopes to go back soon. She loves to play and is always down to challenge any Thornwell kid to a game of basketball. Jenn is married to W. Taylor Stanley and they live in Columbia, SC.
Please complete the form below to learn more about our Christian nurture program or to contact Jenn Stanley.