Ascension sponsors Blessing of the Baby event at Ebenezer Church of God in Christ

August 22, 2019

By Karen Stokes

Elder Jonathan Saffold, Jr., founder of Ebenezer Church of God in Christ. (Photo by Karen Stokes)

Years ago, Julia Means, community health ministry nurse with Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, attended a conference that deeply affected her. At the conference, they discussed the fact that many babies born in Milwaukee were dying before the age of one.

Shortly after, Means co-founded Blanket of Love. The Blanket of Love program is a prenatal and parenting education program for young women, their spouse or friend and family. Blanket of Love creates a community of support through the combination of a welcoming meal eaten together, an educational program presentation and time for sharing with staff and other members of the group. Meetings are held at Ebenezer Church of God in Christ, 3132 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.

On August 17, 2019, members of Ebenezer Church along with community members participated in the Blessing of the Baby event sponsored by Ascension.

Julia Means, community health ministry nurse with Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital and co-founder of Blanket of Love (Photo by Karen Stokes)

“It was important to me that our children be covered. So many of our children are traumatized from the neighborhoods that they live in to the homes that they live in and I just pray that God will give them a sense of urgency inside their little bodies that [they] want to seek God and know that they’re safe because they do have a father in heaven looking over them,” said Means.

Blessing of the Baby is an acknowledgment by the parents that the child is a gift from God, and that the parents desire to recommit the child to Him.

“You’ve been invited here today to have your child blessed. We believe that God authentically blesses those parents that bring their children to Him,” said Elder Jonathan Saffold, Sr., founder of Ebenezer Church of God in Christ.

Song, prayer and spiritual teachings preceded the anointing of babies, expectant mothers and children with oil at the service. The service is not a baptism, but an opportunity to recognize how important our children are to God and the community.

“Never had a Baby Blessing where the whole community was involved,” Elder Saffold said. “Parish nurse and church member Julia Means has been working for years to help mothers get ready to have their babies.”

Marcus Adams blessing the children. (Photo by Karen Stokes)

Following the service, the families were invited to a baby shower in the lower level of the church. Multi-colored balloons, stuffed animals and toys displayed in a vibrant decorated room where games, food, gifts for babies, children and parents were shared to make this celebration even more joyous.

“Our vision was that they just have a healthy baby,” said church member Jill Shumpert. “Through that vision, Blanket of Love is going national through all Ascension hospitals.” Ascension’s mission is rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, committed to serving all persons, with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Their Catholic health ministry is dedicated to spiritually-centered, holistic care which sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities.

“Ascension sponsored the Baby Blessing event and they are a Christian organization and not afraid to show it,” Means said. “I am an employee of Ascension and I like working for them so I can utilize my faith in my job.”