“It’s our own hometown missions trip that we have the privilege to participate in every year,” says Esther Abel, the media intern at Southview Grace Brethren Church of Ashland, Ohio (Mark Abel, senior pastor). Esther is referring to Southview’s long-running tradition of Wifflefest.
Turning 20 years old this past Fourth of July, the community’s staple summer event has not only impacted the city of Ashland but the congregation of Southview Grace as well. Hosted on the church’s home front, the members of Southview look forward to putting the belief of loving people into actions every year.
“Southview has been blessed with people who recognize the extraordinary impact and ministry that Wifflefest is, and thankfully our people are excited to continue to do it,” says Esther.
The volunteer base for Wifflefest runs through each generation within the congregation. This year, the youth became more involved than in years past. Veteran volunteers took the time to train students in the areas of umpiring and scorekeeping.
Part of Southview’s motivation for hosting the event is to welcome members of the community onto the church property for something other than a church service. They believe they must go out into the community instead of waiting for the community to come to them.
“It’s absurd to expect people to come to our party on Sunday mornings when we won’t go to theirs,” says Elaine Hess, Wifflefest coordinator.
Southview has seen dedicated Wifflefest families participate in the event for years before attending the church. Those families are now highly involved with the church’s activities. Attendees of Southview, use the event as a way to bring people, who would otherwise not think about attending a church service, to the church’s property.
Esther says Wifflefest is an opportunity to “pray for the community, tell them we love them, and we are here for them.”
As another Wifflefest season comes to an end, the congregation is already looking forward to next year’s event.