Golf outing funds children’s ministry

Published 9:48 pm Monday, June 8, 2009

For some people, it might be just an opportunity to hit some golf balls around.

But for the children in the Crittenden and Eclipse community, the Ebenzer United Methodist Church Golf Benefit is the key to maintaining some of their most beloved activities.

“We have an intensive kids ministry here,” said Carl LeMon, pastor at Ebenezer church. “It’s funded primarily through fees that we charge the kids and scholarships that we make available through the golf tournament.”

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The church’s children’s ministry includes offering two seasons of Upwards soccer (one in the spring and one in the fall), as well as basketball and cheerleading, summer sports camps, Vacation Bible School, Bible explorer camps and an art camp. Additionally, the church has begun opening up its gymnasium on Friday nights so that middle schoolers will have a safe place to play.

LeMon said the church last year reached more than 1,100 children through its various programs.

“This is generally free to the public,” LeMon said. “Of course we’re trying to invite folks to come because we are so outwardly focused in trying to reach kids in our community.”

To fund all of these endeavors as well as a senior ministry, the church has come to rely on the golf benefit.

The tournament began a decade ago, when the church’s choir was in need of new robes.

After the robes were purchased, other needs in the church were identified and supported through the tournament’s profits, including the church’s annual Fourth of July celebration, art programs and the Family Life Center.

To date, the church has expanded to include two soccer fields, two baseball fields and the center.

“We wouldn’t be doing much of this if we didn’t have family life center,” LeMon said. “And a lot of money helps us pay for that. Where there is no city park in North Suffolk, we have created a playground for kids to come and have a safe haven.”

This year’s tournament will be held June 18 with a morning shotgun beginning at 8 a.m. and the afternoon shotgun beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The tournament will take place at Cedar Point Country Club.

Following the tournament, there will be an “After Tourney Bash.” During the bash, refreshments will be served, and donations that have been received from local businesses and sponsors will be auctioned off in a silent auction or given away as door prizes. Before the end of the night, there will be the annual Ball Drop, one of the event’s more popular fundraisers.

Participants can buy a numbered golf ball to be entered into a 50/50 raffle. All of the balls are taken to a helicopter, which then flies over the practice range of the golf course and dumps all of the balls onto the green. The numbered ball that lands closest to a designated flag on the green wins the raffle.

The tournament is limited to 50 teams, and Latimer says there are still limited spaces available to anyone interested. It costs $500 to enter a team, or individuals can pay a $125 entry fee to be placed on an incomplete team.

“This is a community effort,” LeMon said. “There is just a lot of goodwill out there that is reaching out to the kids in the community, because it is for the kids. People are very generous in wanting to support it.”

To enter the tournament or to make a donation, call Art Latimer at 238-2890 or email him at