St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in DeSoto again served as a host of Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love and celebrating people with special needs, was held in person by host churches around the world simultaneously on Friday, February 10. St. Andrew’s celebrated its sixth year of being a part of this worldwide movement that God is using as a catalyst to change how cultures embrace people with disabilities and to rally the church worldwide to honor their local community of people with special needs, ensuring they know they are valued and loved.
Every guest of Night to Shine entered this complimentary event on a red carpet, complete with a warm welcome from a friendly crowd and paparazzi. Once inside, guests received the royal treatment, including limousine rides, corsages and boutonnieres, a catered dinner, karaoke, prom favors, a dance floor, green screen photos, and coronation, where each special guest is crowned king or queen of the prom. Several guests even take advantage of salon services before the event, including hair and makeup stations, nail services, and shoeshines.
St. Andrew’s UMC had 183 guests register for the event, and over 140 attended! In addition, the volunteer support was phenomenal. A total of 294 volunteers registered; 120 were local high school and junior high students! Many first-time volunteers didn’t know exactly what to expect. Maria Zoph said, “… this was my first year volunteering. I was a buddy to my new friend Nora. We instantly connected. We sang, danced, and talked about our families and life experiences. I have not been this blessed in a long time. I lost my husband four years ago, and sometimes I feel I have lost my purpose. But…I came away feeling my purpose. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this magical event…WOW! What a night!”
St. Andrew’s wasn’t the only Missouri Conference church to participate in Night to Shine this year. The First UMC in Bolivar also hosted 124 guests with 100 volunteers.
“We want to give a shout-out to all of our volunteers who gave their very best to make a special evening for our guests,” said Rev. David Collum. “We are truly honored to be a host church for this event and to have such dedicated community partners come alongside us.”
The First UMC in Sedalia was also coming back this year with Night to Shine. They had 115 guests and more than 200 volunteers. The volunteers from Night to Shine come from the Sedalia area and beyond, not only from the First Church family.
“Being a part of the Night to Shine experience is a blessing to all - participants and volunteers,” said Rev. Candace Fowler. “As we thank volunteers for their help, it is not unusual for those helping with Night to Shine to thank us for allowing them to be part of this magical night. Participants and volunteers alike leave saying, “I’ll see you next year!”
Night to Shine launched in 2015 with 44 host churches and 15,000 volunteers honoring more than 7,000 kings and queens of the prom. In February 2020, 721 host churches and 215,000 volunteers came together to celebrate 110,000 honored guests with special needs. Over the past two years, Night to Shine innovated and endured through the pandemic with the first-ever virtual Night to Shine, celebrating thousands of honored guests through unique adaptations, including a complete virtual video experience and socially distanced Shine Thru drive-thru events.