One of the highlights of the breakfast event was to honor the Sisters of Mercy, longtime supporters of Emerald Youth Foundation.
Other highlights were worship music by a 70-member youth choir and a dialogue between Rick Dunn, lead pastor of Fellowship Church, and Emerald Youth participants.
The event raised key support for Emerald Youth Foundation, a 22-year-old youth ministry that serves more than 1,350 children, teens and young adults who live in Knoxville’s urban neighborhoods.
And of special note this year was the 20th anniversary of the first Emerald Youth breakfast, which took place in 1993 at St. Mary’s Medical Center, now Physicians Regional Medical Center owned by Tennova Healthcare. St. Mary’s provided pivotal support in the formation of Emerald Youth, including financial support, volunteers and even a building.
Steve Diggs, Emerald Youth executive director, used the 20-year anniversary to give special recognition to the Sisters of Mercy, who have committed themselves to serving God’s people—especially those who are sick, poor, and uneducated.
“The Sisters of Mercy have been constant through all the years, leading the way. Their blessing and advocacy for Emerald Youth and children in our city led to the means provided by the hospital,” Mr. Diggs said.
Influential in the formation of St. Mary’s Medical Center in 1930, the Sisters of Mercy served for decades at the hospital. They continue their ministry today through the Diocese of Knoxville and as mission representatives with Tennova Healthcare.
Begun in 1988 as a summer outreach program for neighborhood children at Emerald Avenue United Methodist Church, the youth ministry offered children Christian faith, safe relationships with adults, academic help and sports. It was so successful that in 1991 it became a separate nonprofit called Emerald Youth Foundation.
Emerald Youth now offers its programs through a network of 21 churches and faith-based organizations. Programs include: JustLead, neighborhood-based ministry offered through urban churches to provide after-school, summer, discipleship and mentoring experiences; Emerald Youth Sports, a community and campus-based sports outreach which teams with Fellowship of Christian Athletes to provide fun, skills, and competitive sport opportunities; and Emerald Youth Fellows, a Christian leadership training program for young adults.
Graham Corp., Home Federal Bank and Tennova Healthcare sponsored this year’s event, with breakfast provided by All Occasion Catering.