Mary Christmas:: The Holiday That Made Teen Motherhood Famous

By Ginger Sinsabaugh MacDonald Okay. We’ve heard the story a zillion times. Even those of us who are Chreasters (those who only show up for Christmas and Easter) know the story about the pregnant teen named Mary. She and her fiancé, Joe, didn’t have reservations at the Red Roof Inn so they spent the night in a stable, where Mary’s water broke and she ultimately gave birth to the reason for the season, and all those balls of holly, Butterball turkeys, Chia pets, candy canes, TV specials and Christmas plays. But few avenues of support, if any, for the teen mom.

Over the past several months, I’ve made it my mission to call the country’s fastest growing churches, hoping to glean cool ideas to reach out to teen moms. Considering one of every three teen girls gets pregnant*, I had no doubt that many of these mega churches would be addressing this issue.

I visited countless church websites, many of which to took longer to load than it took Moses to part the Red Sea. They all had cool programs and links, including downloadable podcasts, coffee ministries, and kid programming that rivaled Disney World. But I was shocked to discover that only a handful of these churches had programs in place to reach out to the teen that chose life.

When I called the churches inquiring about resources available for teen moms/pregnant teens, I heard a lot of interesting responses, including receptionists who would say, “Oh, we don’t have that problem here.” That’s Christianese for “They aren’t accepted here.”  Other times, the church staff member would admit that there wasn’t room at their inn for a pregnant teen. They couldn’t find a place for programming in their schedule or facilities. The phone attendant would say with a smile, “She can find some help at the Crisis Pregnancy Center down the street.”

Of the few churches that did have programs, they had pretty cool ones in place. Some supported homes for teen moms. While in the inner-city, teen parenting can be the norm, in the suburbs, it’s not uncommon to hear stories of the pregnant teen being kicked out of her home. Other churches offered the teen parent a Mommy Mentor. This mentor, usually a former teen or single parent, could discuss the issues that the teen parent is facing as well as fears.

But I was bummed that there wasn’t more available in the church commnuity for the teen Mary’s of today. Actually, bummed is a nicey-nice word for how I really feel. That’s why came up with “Mary Christmas: Outreach Ideas for Teen Moms,”  a list of ideas to turn Christmas back into a time to reach out to the teen mom. No matter the size of your church, zip code or demographics, you can find ideas to reach out to the teen moms and pregnant teens in your community. Go to and click the link next to the bulging belly. And have yourself a Mary little Christmas.

Ginger Sinsabaugh MacDonald Since 1984, Ginger has been splitting her time between advertising and urban youth ministry in Chicago. She is the Top Cookie of It’s not a bakery, but a micro-publisher that connects the hope of Christ to non-sugarcoated issues, including teen pregnancy and illiteracy. You can reach her at

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