Party in the Park! - Issue #65
North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana sits at intersection of four distinctly diverse neighborhoods, both ethnically and economically. Nearby is a city park that they decided was a perfect place to practice radical hospitality.
Vacation Bible School at North UMC and at many of our United Methodist churches usually serves the children of the congregation and a few others who members invite. North decided to use this as an opportunity to practice radical hospitality intergenerationally. They looked at the model Jesus used for building relationships — dinner parties and celebrations. They also studied the eternal covenant of peace that God made with Isaiah and discussed the ways to shape the party so that those in the community might be interested in attending.
Then they created "Party in the Park." Young, old, rich, and poor spent three summer evenings under tents eating delicious meals, dancing to music from all over the world, making international crafts, listening to Bible stories, and singing classic VBS songs. Each night, after eating, singing, and dancing, they gathered into smaller groups by age for more activities, stories, and lessons. At the end of each evening, they all came together for dessert and a blessing.
People were so excited about this way of practicing radical hospitality that they lined up at the church phone to invite friends and neighbors to come out, too! Reverend Lisa Schubert, associate pastor at North UMC, sums it up by the response of one man from the neighborhood who remarked, "We're fragmented. We experience a lot of violence and pain. But here, we are fed. We have Christian conversation. You give us hope."
Some Questions for Discussion
What ministries does your congregation sponsor that serve primarily members of the congregations? How could these ministries become opportunities for radical hospitality?
What ministries does your congregation sponsor that target primarily one age group? How could these ministries become opportunities for intergenerational faith sharing?
What resources in your community might become venues for ministries of hospitality and faith development?
Melanie Gordon is the Director of Ministry with Children at the Discipleship Ministries. She can be reached at [email protected].