UMNS reports that Methodist churches are collaborating with National Neighborhood Day to make Sept. 12 a day of getting to know and welcoming neighbors into the church”.
Conveniently, this day is located in what is already known as the Open House Month for the United Methodists, further promoting September as a welcoming month for many newcomers to the neighborhood.
Asbury United Methodist Church in Rochester, N.Y had a picnic with 1,200 new neighbors in their community. The invitation was given to all those who had moved into the community since a year ago. “Together in Ministry” is the theme for the picnic planned for Sep. 12.
Methodist Churches are working on presenting a welcoming attitude to their neighbors. “It is essential to welcome people into the church in a time when so many have pre-conceived ideas about church which aren’t always positive,” said Rev. Robin Olson, pastor at the church. “You have to be open to new people and not just ask them to join you but be willing to join them on their spiritual journey.”
Since 2001, the United Methodist Church has been promoting September as Open House Month at a time when communities are in need of extra support.
In fact, Methodists have a television and welcoming ministry of the United Methodist Church. Igniting Ministry, which is under United Methodist Communications, works with the bishops to encourage congregations to host special events, worship festivals or make other efforts to welcome the community during the month of September.
The church is also planning to welcome members in other ways throughout various ministries. For example, they are creating a “wall of welcome” to honor those who have excelled in good neighborly activites.
Below, United Methodist Churches offers some suggestions for churches to be neighborly.
· Hosting a picnic on the church lawn or working with your local neighborhood association to host a block party.
· Offer free food and fun and get to know the people in your neighborhood in an inviting and welcoming way.
· Having the youth group go door-to-door in the neighborhood, doing a silly scavenger hunt (collect common household items such as clothes dryer lint, paper towel rolls, old newspapers, etc.). They can leave behind an invitation to church and say that it’s Neighborhood Day so they’re out getting to know the church’s neighbors—a fun and nonthreatening way to interact with neighbors nearby.
· Doing a neighborhood improvement or “clean-up” day in the blocks around the church. Maybe someplace in the neighborhood could use a little sprucing up or an elderly neighbor needs some “handyman” chores done. Invite all the neighbors to participate in making the neighborhood a better place.
· Having members invite their friends, relatives, associates and neighbors to worship and special activities during September.
· Planning worship services to reach out to others in the community. Consider structuring services around issues and themes important to the community, such as honoring volunteers and servants in the community (police officers, hospital workers, firefighters, little league coaches, etc.) with special Labor Day observances.
· Participating in fall fairs, carnivals and community activities.
· Promoting the church’s outreach activities, introducing new ones and providing newcomers with opportunities to get involved.
For more information and ideas about National Neighborhood Day, visit www.neighborhoodday.org. Check out www.IgnitingMinistry.org for more Open House Month ideas.