One morning in early June, St. Andrew's had two Discovery Place employees walk through our doors and ask to speak to whoever oversees our "outreach" ministries. Sandy Devoid and I ended up sitting and having a 30 minute conversation with them. They started off the conversation by saying "We have a new program we want to start in the community, and when we have knocked on the doors and spoken to Monclaire Elementary School across the street, 100% of the response was that we needed to speak to St. Andrew's UMC about hosting the program. You have the reputation in the community of being a community church that welcomes everyone."
Wow, what a great reputation to have as a church. I hope that each day we strive to continue to live out this reputation in bigger ways. Since my job shifted to include outreach ministries, I have had some wonderful conversations with folks about potential ways we can be a light to our neighborhood.
The first of these programs you may have read about in the Charlotte Observer this morning. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/10/07/5225198/pnc-bank-county-libraries-team.html#.VDQ7fb5TTZQ
This vocabulary pilot program is being led by Discovery Place, Charlotte Library System, and the Community School of the Arts. The main goal of the program is to prepare students for elementary school so they do not start school already behind their peers. We as a church believe this is a great program and we are thrilled to be a part of this program! Every Wednesday morning, we will have upwards of 100-125 folks at our church as a part of this program. We get the chance to be a light to our community!
There are several ways that we can be a part of this program.
1. Thursday, October 9th, is a community kick off for the program being held here at St. Andrew's UMC. We would love to have members of the church here as hosts. We want to do more than just open our doors, we want to show these families radical hospitality! If you are interested in coming to help welcome this group in our church, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Starting Wednesday morning, October 15th, this program will be at our church on a weekly basis. We would love to have folks that serve as hosts each week, helping the program with whatever need may arise. There is also a snack portion to this program. It would would be great if we could provide the snack as a church each week. If you are interested in helping host this group or to provide a snack one week, please let me know!
The second "being a light to our neighborhood" event we are having is our Annual Halloween Bash. We will have rooms set up as trick or treating stations, lots of games in the FLC, and food for families who want to bring their children to a safe location for trick or treating. Last year we welcomed over 350 folks into our church. This is a great way to get to know our neighbors and provide a safe environment for neighborhood children. If you are interested in helping with this event, please see me or Ruth Mauldin to volunteer! If you cannot help that evening, please consider providing candy for our trick or treating stations!
The final way we can continue to be a "light to the neighborhood" that I would like to share with you is our continuing partnership with Montclaire Elementary School. Here are a few ways we are already working toward supporting Montclaire Elementary.
We are lucky to be able to open our doors for their fall and spring music programs and their graduation ceremony. We are honored to be a part of the Montclaire Freedom School program in the summers. We have volunteers who go over and are lunch buddies with kids during the school year. We have taken baked goods over to the teachers for teacher appreciation week.
I have been in conversations with Nancy (the Community in School's staff) about ways that we can increase our support of the school. There are some great things we have planned and some great ways for you to be involved. We are also open to any or your ideas!
I ask you to pray for each of these areas. Pray for the folks leading each program. Pray for the students who are involved in each program. Pray for the families of the students involved. Most importantly, pray about how God may want you personal to be a light to the neighborhood through one of these programs.
St. Andrew's UMC has the reputation of being a community church and I pray that we will continue to live out that reputation each day.