This summer, the Salem Creek Regional Conference of Churches worked together actively on outreach to children in the neighborhood around Saint Philips Moravian Church in the northern part of Winston-Salem. The Salem Creek RCC (Home, Messiah, Trinity and St. Philips congregations) identified the needs of that neighborhood and, working together, developed a plan for a summer outreach that would invite neighborhood families and children to a fun, positive program at the historic congregation.
Plans were laid for an outdoor Saturday Community Festival in June, with music, games and food. Each of the four congregations took responsibility for a portion of the planning and the program, and pooled funds to pay for the event and to hire Hilda Regalado as coordinator for the outreach and follow-up.
The wild weather this year sent us a challenge—a powerful storm ripped through the area only days before the event, taking down two large trees on the St. Philips’ Church property. Fortunately, neither tree damaged the building and they were able to have a tree service clear the parking lot of debris for the Festival.
June 15 was a bright sunny day, with pleasant temperatures, the best sort of day for such an event! More than 200 neighborhood children came from blocks around to enjoy face painting (very popular!), crafts, food, a pony ride and a chance to climb on a real fire truck. Music was provided by a number of different musicians, including the Revs. Brad Bennett and Ginny Tobiassen, Peter Free and Christian rapper Gregory Peeples, “Mister GP.” Everyone who attended was asked to register so that we could follow up with them later. Each of the RCC congregations helped with some aspect of the celebration.
Following the event, Hilda Regalado worked with the members of St. Philips’ Church and volunteers from the other congregations to develop a Vacation Bible School type of program for the children we had built contacts with. The program ran several Monday evenings, and included about twenty new children of grade school age. They joined together in age-appropriate crafts, Bible study, singing and a simple dinner together.
St. Philips is one of the oldest African American churches in the country, and has quite a heritage; but that heritage and the general unfamiliarity of their neighbors with the Moravian Church and Moravian worship means that they have a special challenge in reaching their neighbors for the Lamb. However, this joint effort demonstrated that very different congregations can work together to get a remarkable start on new outreach, and to begin building new relationships with neighborhood families.
It is hoped that in future months the members of St. Philips’ can build on this strong beginning, with the spiritual and practical support of sister congregations!
The Rev. John Jackman is senior pastor of Trinity Moravian Church
From the October 2013 Moravian Magazine