By K.J. WEBB
GROUP LEADER: Businessman Russ Knight talks to a group of job seekers recently in the Employment Transition Ministry at First United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa.
During tough economic times with a national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent (as of May 2011, Bureau of Labor Statistics), people are coping with unease, anxiety and stress, particularly those who are unemployed and in transition between jobs. Fortunately, metro Tulsans have somewhere to turn for help.
First United Methodist Church’s Employment Transition Ministry () has been proactively assisting job seekers since early 2009 to learn and develop skills that empower them in their job search.
According to Russ Knight, a member of the leadership team, “Back in early 2008, a group of folks at First United Methodist felt compelled to address the problem of unemployment and respond as a faith community to those is need.” The result was .
Knight says he got involved with the group as a participant when he was a candidate looking for employment. “Not only did I find a job through the skills development and resources at , I found such a great hope and help with the group that I stayed involved and joined the leadership team.”
The purpose of is to provide people with something useful and relevant to their lives through providing support and skills development to help job seekers find employment.
Every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., job candidates can meet at First United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa to connect with one another, share their experiences and develop useful effective job-finding skills.
During the first hour, three candidates each take the floor to tell their story and receive specific, constructive feedback and tips on networking, professional contacts and more. “During the second hour we usually have a guest speaker who offers all sorts of helpful advice. Sometimes we’ll offer something different and have breakout sessions where experienced professionals provide advice and assistance with resume writing, interviewing, networking, utilizing social media as a job-finding tool, and more,” says Knight.
“ETM offers comfort and valuable help to people in need,” says Knight. “It’s not a church recruitment tool, it’s a resource for anyone who needs it. We’re not trying to drive membership with the program; we want to help hurting people. We do this through offering something practical and relevant to their lives, guided by the immutable wisdom and healing power of Scripture.”
Knight was so inspired by his experience with that he helped carry it over to his church, Asbury United Methodist and, with the assistance of other dedicated people from Asbury, and other churches, founded the Overcoming Job Transition () ministry. “I could see the incredible impact was having on people’s lives and wanted to form a partner group to help carry on the work,” Knight says. The result, , offers evening workshops the third Tuesday of every month from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and childcare is available.
Knight describes the model as a little different than . “There are four elements that we challenge candidates to focus on: 1) Determine your value proposition; 2) Resumes – communicate that value; 3) Networking – grow your contacts; and 4) Social media – utilize job boards, networking sites and other online tools.” As an example, Knight mentions the value of using LinkedIn, likening it to “Facebook with a tie.”
Both programs have been successful; First United Methodist has served approximately 600 job seekers since began in late 2008, and Asbury United has served approximately 300. Response continues to be positive and the demand for this type of ministry remains strong. In fact, several other churches in the Tulsa metro region have also developed programs aimed at assisting jobseekers.
Knight emphasizes however, “ETM and are not job placement agencies. We try to be a useful and valuable resource. We want people to know that we’ve been in their shoes and understand what it’s like to be in job transition.” He adds, “Most of all, we want people to know that God cares for them and provides a never ending source of strength, hope and support. People should face their job search with enthusiasm and confidence. Faith reflects the radiance of who you are looking at. Believe in a God who is a provider, who has created you for a purpose, and project a message of strength. You’ll get results!”
meets every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1115 S. Boulder Ave, downtown Tulsa.
meets the third Tuesday of every month, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 6767 S. Mingo Rd.
For more information about both programs contact Russ Knight at 918-640-6148, or firstname.lastname@example.org