Holland says, “Thank you for the joy”

By Sharon Mager

June Holland retired on January 31 as the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) children’s ministry consultant. A former elementary teacher and the wife of Pastor Ward Holland for 58 years  (Ward passed away in 2018), June was the first to fill the children’s ministry consultant role the BCM/D’s General Mission Board created in 1998. She went on to develop and refine that role and brought admirable compassionate professionalism to Maryland and Delaware churches from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland and beyond.

June Holland shares at a VBS expo (photo by Sharon Mager).

From the beginning of her ministry, June was either in the field with her boots on the ground — working hands-on with Maryland and Delaware churches, counseling children’s leaders, attending conferences to sharpen her skills — or buried in a storage closet in a search for just the right material to share. In addition to advising churches from her wealth of knowledge, she regularly traveled across the two-state convention to be at the churches. She rolled up her sleeves and taught both children and adults as they watched and learned — all with a gentle spirit and cheerful heart.

June stresses that the ministry has always been a team effort. When management developed the role, they built a resource team of associational representatives throughout Maryland and Delaware who were interested in children’s ministry, with June in the lead. She says that the team has been vital to her ministry. Along with sharing the burden and teaching and learning from others, she has made lifelong friendships.

When asked about the highlights of her tenure, Holland said safety and security have always been a priority. She created a free safety packet with policies and procedures that churches use to assess and develop their ministries.

“As a child experiences security, he begins to develop a sense of trust that will help form a foundation for spiritual decisions later in life,” she said. At every meeting and conference, June emphasized safety procedures, such as parents checking children in and out of the childcare areas, team teaching, and room safety. She is pleased that churches have made great strides in these areas.

Regarding Vacation Bible School (VBS), June exclaimed, “Wow! Watching the takeoff of Vacation Bible School has been one of the blessings of Kids’ Ministry. VBS Expos have developed into our largest teaching, training, and reaching event.”

June’s energy is contagious, especially at events such as the Expos. She’s got a quiet spirit, is focused and excited when she talks about Jesus, and she loves to laugh.

Steffan Carr, pastor of Bruce Outreach Center in Westernport, Maryalnd, said, “June is an amazing lady. She was my first connection with the BCM/D when I first became pastor 24 years ago.”

Carr said Holland has also been a grandmotherly mentor and role model for his daughter and has been an encourager for his wife.

“There are two things I especially appreciate about her,” he added. “She has always made my mom and dad feel special, even after my dad retired and was not engaged in ministry due to his health. She treated them like gold, with respect and honor, and made them feel important. That was a big deal for me as their son.”

BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith recognized June at the 2019 Annual Meeting. “I don’t have to tell you all that she knows the churches … that she loves the churches … she serves the churches … she’s a wonderful partner with LifeWay Christian Resources and the things that they do for VBS. I don’t have to tell you she’s good at encouraging pastors … she’s a good friend. Most of you wouldn’t have even known that her contract was part-time.”

Smith, addressing June, said, “We love you. We appreciate you, and we have a wonderful joy of counting you a sister in the Lord.”

June said, with emotion, “Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving with you and watching you, as pastors, realize that kids really are important. You have been amazing in what you have done with your children’s ministries and with the safety and security you have provided and continue to provide.

“Thank you for allowing me the privilege of doing what God called me to do,” she said. “Thank you for the joy.”