2/2/2013 8:01:00 PM HOPE EDITION: 2-year-old initiative helps to build families Bringing fathers closer to their children
Fathers and daughters unite on the Hoover Hall dance floor in Spiceland during the first annual Henry County Fatherhood Initiative Daddy/Daughter Valentine’s Day Dance in 2012. Photo Provided.
"There was a quote from the movie that registered with me, a calling to not just be a good dad, but a godly dad."
president of Henry County Fatherhood Initiative
By DERICK BISCHOFF
There wasn't a dry eye left in the building at the South Memorial Drive Church of God after a showing of the movie "Courageous."
The movie, from Christian filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, is about four police officers who struggle with faith, and being a husband and father before signing a resolution, acknowledging they will lead their family. It's a movie so real and raw it spoke to three New Castle men and spawned the birth of the Henry County Fatherhood Initiative one year ago.
"There was a quote from the movie that registered with me," President Dusty Neal said. "A calling to not just be a good dad, but a godly dad."
The initiative is a group designed by founders Neal, president, Brett Ficher, treasurer, from South Memorial Church of God, and Tony Stewart, vice-president, from First Baptist. The three co-founders showed "Courageous" at the South Memorial Drive Church of God and received a good reaction from everyone who attended.
"Several times Brett and I saw 'Courageous' and we felt God talking to us through it," Neal said. "There is such a need for fatherhood and just stepping up and being a man and getting guys involved who are not even fathers yet."
Caleb Hinshaw, of New Castle, is a married member and hoping for kids soon.
"The initiative isn't for me," Hinshaw said. "It's how can I better prepare my household for children when they do come."
Last year, Four Square Gospel held a Men's United event where pastor and event organizer Ron Gentry, Mayor Greg York, Jerry Engals of First Baptist and Neal spoke about worshiping the Lord and becoming better fathers together.
"We don't want people to feel we're shoving the Gospel down their throats," Neal said. "We're trying to make better fathers through the power of Christ."
Only four members were scheduled to speak at Men's United, but Neal encourages anyone to speak and be involved whether Christian or not at a united event in the future.
"If someone was in the audience and felt moved enough to speak, we wouldn't squelch the spirit. We would encourage it," Neal said.
The initiative plans to hold events in the future that provide an opportunity for fathers to grow with their children and teach them about the Lord's way. These events include bowling and fishing tournaments, a camping trip specific to dads and daughters, and a camping trip specific to dads and sons.
"These camping trips will be for an entire weekend," Neal said. "And they'll be specific to fathers with daughters and sons, so the father can really spend a good amount of time, learning and growing with the one child one week and the other the next week."
Neal is also planning a Fall Ball with a dinner and dance focused on couples, married, engaged or dating, possibly even singles trying to find their perfect match. Neal feels it's important for couples to leave the kids with the babysitter every now and then and spend alone time with each other. Hinshaw plans on attending the Fall Ball with his wife.
"In order for me to be a good father, I've got to be a good husband first," Hinshaw said. "I've got to lead by an example of love."
The ultimate goal of the Henry County Fatherhood Initiative is to build up families with the intent for fathers to spend time with their kids, be a mentor and have accountability.
"When I was a kid, my family sat in front of the T.V. at dinner," Neal said. "I've made it a point for me, my wife and two daughters to spend at least 20 minutes around the dinner table, eating together, talking together and sharing our lives with each other and I hope the initiative will encourage other families to do the same."
The first Fatherhood Initiative event of the year will be the second annual Daddy/Daughter Valentine's Day Dance and Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hoover Hall in Spiceland. The cost is $25 per father, grandfather or father-figure covering dinner, disc jockey, a gift for every attending family, a professional photo and a chance at a door prize.
If planning to attend the daddy/daughter dance, the initiative asks to respond to Dusty Neal at email@example.com or Tony Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 4.
"We received great, positive feedback from last year's daddy/daughter dance," Neal said. "It was really beneficial and everyone who came had a good time."