On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, members of the Cornerstone Grace Brethren Church, Miamisburg, Ohio, descended on two local retailers, Best Buy and Toys-R-Us, at 4 a.m. for an outreach activity.
Pastor Tim Nixon says the church, which just began holding public services on October 1, targeted these stores specifically because the group wanted to make contact with families who have children.
“Our plan was to pass out hot chocolate to folks standing in line waiting for the stores to open,” Nixon reported. “We gave them a card with a bit of information regarding the church and we hoped for the chance to have some brief conversations.”
There were several hundred people in line at Toys-R-Us, Nixon said, and at least 1,500 in line at Best Buy. The group arrived at 4:15 a.m. and went to work, serving more than 600 cups of hot chocolate. The supply was exhausted by 5 a.m.
“Many people would not take the hot chocolate,” he said, “but most people were appreciative, commenting on what a neat thing our church was doing. As always, some were suspicious. We had a couple of neat conversations.”
The Black Friday outreach was just one of a series of activities Cornerstone is launching, funded, in part, by a $5,000 matching grant from Grace Brethren North American Missions.
In July church members conducted a “gasoline buy-down” at a local station. In August they distributed nearly 500 free doggie gift bags at a “Canine Carnival.” They have distributed backpacks with school supplies to students in need, and they provided 50 Bibles at Springboro High School’s “See You at the Pole” event in September.
Other outreach activities included distributing free 9-volt batteries for smoke alarms in local apartment complexes, providing hats and gloves to students in need, and adopting an area family with four children whose parents are both in prison.