A Light in the Community - Issue #102
A popular hotel chain promises to "leave the light on for you," but Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, doesn't wait for people to arrive before shining its light. The congregation is committed to engaging with the community; and as the church logo states, the church is "A Light in the Community."
When Cascade uses the word community, the church is not just referring to the immediate area surrounding the church building. Located on Atlanta's south side, home to many of the great leaders of the Civil Rights era, the church has a rich history of providing leadership for the local community, the total city, and indeed the world.
The church does extensive outreach in the at-risk communities of Atlanta and across the globe through prison ministry, adopt-a-school programs, hospital and nursing home care, building and repairing homes, and involvement in civic organizations across the city of Atlanta. Nearly fifty different ministries with clear mission statements and achievable goals are described on the church's website.
Just as important as the organized ministries is the ongoing ministry that is provided for people who come in from the street looking for help. No one is turned away -- individuals' needs are met, and they are encouraged to attend the worship services on Sundays and Wednesdays as well as to participate in the myriad spiritual formation classes and ministries that are available.
Some Questions for Discussion
- When people in your congregation refer to the community, how broad or narrow is their understanding of what area that encompasses?
- When committees, councils, and other groups plan for ministry in your congregation, are they primarily focusing on those who are already church members? Are there ministries that currently have an inward focus that could become more outwardly focused?
- As you look at the goals of your congregation, which of those are directed at serving the needs of the community? Do you have clear plans to achieve those goals?