“CCDA raised me,” Florence Annang responded quickly when asked how she got involved in CCD ministry. Florence was first introduced to CCDA through Dr. John Perkins, when she began working with him at Harambee Ministries in Pasadena, CA. Through her work at Harambee, Florence recognized the importance of churches and CCD ministries partnering, coming together to produce good fruit.
Florence has recently launched her own after-school program in the Pasadena community. Thrive—a “learning lab of NW Pasadena”—meets in a local church, offering after school programs for the primarily Latino and African American kids of the neighborhood. Foundational to Florence’s work with Thrive is the importance of community and the school––as a bridge to building relationships across education, reaching parents and families. Florence took what she learned from Harambee and the seeds of relationships she had built in the community and launched Thrive in February of this year. She emphasized that Thrive can be a model for any other after-school program, “ ‘A learning lab for _____.’ Fill in the blank––NW Pasadena, LA, anywhere!”
In her many years in the community, Florence has witnessed the profound impact of CCD ministry on the local community. “I’ve seen children grow up, graduate, be the first to go off to college. Kids who used to do clean up at Harambee are now doctors. I’ve seen them get married, have kids, start their own businesses. I’ve been a part of the fabric of their families.” In turn, the community has had a tremendous impact on Florence’s life, “The community has taught me so much. The have loved, protected, corrected, challenged and stood by me.”
Born in Ghana and raised in England, Florence refers to herself as a backward missionary. “I’ve got to be just as sensitive not to drop the ball,” Florence says of her experience as an immigrant and now leader in a community of immigrants and people of color. She emphasizes the importance of relationships in CCD ministry. Relationships with members of the community transcend difference and conflict. “I may disagree with how you believe, but if we’re at the table to do righteous things in our community, then your voice matters.”
Thrive and a group of other churches and ministries in NW Pasadena, including Harambee, will be hosting a Go & See outing at the National Conference in Los Angeles. Florence hopes that people will get a taste of what makes the fabric of the community, not just the individual ministries. When asked what she hopes participants in the Go & See will see and learn, Florence beautifully stated, “I want them to see past the Rose Parade. I want them to see the invisible—the single mothers, the young man sleeping from couch to couch, the Latina selling fruit on the side of the road from 7am to 7pm. I want them to see that it’s not about the ministries, it’s about the people. I want them to see that we’re no different from wherever they’re from. The struggle they have is much the same as ours. God is still doing a new thing, as he’s doing wherever they’ve come from. I want them to see the beautiful struggle.”