Summit Mills Grace Brethren Church (Andy Gannon, pastor) and Meyersdale Grace Brethren Church (Randy Haulk, pastor) are nestled in the Alleghenies just miles apart from one another, in the rural community of Meyersdale, Pa. After discovering mutual interests – for instance, both churches host an annual game supper, featuring venison, fish and a Gospel presentation – the two churches decided to collaborate to discover how to better reach their community.
One of their biggest projects comes in the form of the Grace Community Day. One afternoon a year (the exact date has varied from June to September), the churches set up booths, bounce houses, and big tent in a local park and invite a bluegrass gospel band to come perform for the day. Everything they offer is free to the public.
After an outdoor church service in the morning — open to the public — the rest of the afternoon is dedicated to fun: cotton candy, snowcones, and other carnival food, face painting, and games; as well as booths where attendees could find information or help from a variety of ministries, including divorce care and gospel presentations, Awana, and Child Evangelism Fellowship.
“I love to enter in the community instead of trying to get them to come to the church,” explains Haulk on why the Meyersdale church decided to host a community day. “We as a church have already done things like handing out coupons for free coffee and hot chocolate at football games and helped to meet the needs of cancer patients and their families in our community. We’re just here. We want to have a presence with people.”
Now a five-year running tradition, the day truly is a community event: with the Meyersdale population around 2,000, the churches experienced an excellent turnout of over 500 people last year. Haulk found that the two churches together were able to better focus their strengths and combine them for the greatest impact.
“Summit Mills takes over certain areas and we take over certain areas,” says Pastor Haulk. “Each of us as churches has a heart for certain things.
“What I’ve realized through the years is that it takes a team — it takes the body of Christ and we are not exclusive as a church. We can accomplish so much more if we work together and I know [Pastor] Andy feels the same way.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.