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Orphan Care Core Value

Growing Oklahoma church requires members to support foster care or adoption.
Spirit Church of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is taking a unique approach to unifying members under the biblical mandate of James 1:27 to care for orphans.

When lead pastors Darryl and Faith Wootton came to Spirit Church in 2003, the 75 regular attendees had no idea that in the next 15 years over 300 orphans would be ministered to inside the church walls.

The Woottons, who have adopted two children through Highlands Maternity Home, a ministry of COMPACT Family Services based in Hot Springs, Arkansas, have long had a heart for adoption. When elected as lead pastors, they knew that they wanted orphan care to be a core value of the church. To emphasize the importance of this value, the body decided that in order to become a member of Spirit Church, one must foster, adopt, or support foster/adoptive parents in some way.

The Woottons, both 48, led the charge on this initiative by obtaining their license so that they could provide temporary respite for foster parents in the church in need of a short break, especially those who had been fostering before the Woottons arrived.

“Everything just started developing from there,” says Faith Wootton. “Just by us talking about it on a regular basis, the idea caught on and really took off.”

Mark and Pam Ramsey, neighbors to the Woottons, say that after years of fostering and adopting two children, they decided to start attending Spirit Church because they desperately needed reinforcement to keep going.

“We’ve found a tremendous amount of support,” says Mark Ramsey. “They even pay for our foster children to attend church camp every year. Those in the congregation truly love the kids we care for, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or what their histories are. And this all stems from the leadership of the Woottons.”

The church has attracted numerous foster and adoptive families from the community as well as those who want to serve this demographic in some way.

This church of now 700 regular attendees has expanded its reach into the community as well. Spirit Church offers several yearly events such as a foster parents day out for the entire county and a “day of hope,” which supplies kids in care and their families free clothes, medical screenings, haircuts, and groceries.

“Not everyone has to foster or adopt,” Mark Ramsey says. “The Woottons only ask that people do what God has called them to do. For some, that may be to provide direct care, but for others, it may just be paying a child’s way to camp.”

Ramsey says being a foster or adoptive parent is never easy and although there are times he has been tempted to quit, he knows that he is doing what God has called him to do and that Spirit Church will be supportive of his efforts.

Washington County, where Bartlesville is located, has the lowest number of kids entering foster care in the state of Oklahoma.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.