Thursday, December 10, 2015
Re-route enables church to reach out
By Pastor Nanci Kenyon
Saint Mark’s UMC in Harrisburg is typical of many smaller churches during this time. We are struggling as our membership declines, mainly due to changing demographics and an aging congregation. The week after we held a congregational meeting to discuss future options to pray about, we received a notice from the township police on our door informing us that the Harrisburg Marathon had changed it’s route, and would this year be going right past our church (closing the street) on a Sunday morning.
After researching online to see what other churches in our predicament had done, we realized that this was an opportunity that God had dropped into our laps.
An announcement was made from the pulpit that we would be “taking church outside the building” the day of the marathon to help serve the runners and to cheer for them. The director of the marathon was contacted, and the water station they had planned to man only a hundred feet or so away from our building was moved to right in front of our building. The volunteers assigned to that station were a group of middle school and high school age cross country runners and coaches from our local schools.
We, and a small start-up congregation who uses our building for worship, provided breakfast and lunch for the volunteers as well as use of our facilities. We also offered fruit for the runners. We played music over loud speakers and even had a keyboard and drums.
The organizers told us that we had the best water station on the route. Best of all, most of our small congregation came to help and cheer with enthusiasm that day. We are now planning to have at least one community outreach event per month and pray that it will be as blessed as this one was.