2023 was our best year ever! As we begin our 48th year of ministry in East Tennessee, 3 things give us hope for the future.
We have a great program! In 2023 we equipped and mobilized 220 YOKE Folk. Many of those were former YOKE Kids returning to serve in their own communities. Those YOKE Folk invested more than 20,000 hours in middle school students last year.We started the fall semester with nearly the same number of students that we ended with in the spring (awesome!) and since those first clubs, we’ve seen a 91% increase in the number of students participating in YOKE. Our YOKE Folk had hundreds of spiritual conversations with their students, and we know of at least 17 students who have made first time decisions to follow Jesus. Some of those have already been baptized and added to churches in their communities.
We started YOKE at 2 schools that have never had YOKE before – Clinton and Lake City Middle Schools in Anderson County. We are working hard to relaunch clubs at Gibbs, Northwest, and Cedar Bluff Middle Schools in Knox County, and Alcoa, Montgomery Ridge, and Eagleton Middle Schools in Blount County. If you know anyone in those communities who would be good additions to our teams, please let us know.
We have a great team! Last year we added 2 new members to our board of directors, Doug Mapp and Tiffany Martin, bringing our board to 15 members. Doug is an entrepreneur in the field of cognitive development and is already working to improve our team’s performance. Tiffany is a pastor’s kid who has worked with KUB since college. She’s now a Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. We’ve already launched our process to add more in the coming months.
We also added 2 new staff members last year, both of whom brought a lot of YOKE experience to the team. Cayleigh Anderson was a YOKE Kid at Union Grove Middle in Blount County before serving as a YOKE Folk there herself. Cayleigh is coordinating YOKE’s ministry across Blount County. Kelly Chilcote served as a YOKE Folk in Jefferson County during her years at Carson Newman and became president of our student organization there. She is coordinating 5 schools in Jefferson and Grainger Counties. Altogether, our staff has more than 100 years of YOKE experience.
We serve a great God – one with abundant resources! We announced in December that generous financial partners had offered to match every dollar donated through the end of the year, up to a total of $40,000. We’re happy to share that our year-end campaign brought in nearly $100,000! That income is a tremendous boost as we head into 2024. Our God has truly supplied all our needs from his glorious riches (Philippians 4:19).
Thanks to all of you who helped make 2023 our best year yet. We are confident that 2024 will be even better!