June 29, 2016

On July 4th --Take it to the Streets

Editor’s note: With the 4[1] of July weekend approaching, perhaps this is the year to take a look for opportunities to make your church more visible at your community’s 2017 4[2] of July celebration. 

We have found that when we take “us” out to meet folks where they are at—the result is usually a warm reception.

Last year, after seeing good responses to offering Ashes on Ash Wednesday at the college campus, and offering Pet Blessings near St. Francis Day at a local Animal Shelter day in the park—we began to look for other opportunities to go out and meet people “where they are at.”

So for the Fourth of July we did two things.

  1. For July 3rd--we “bought” a spot for a booth at the downtown festivities known as “Light up Arlington.” We were there right alongside the other vendors of jewelry and back massages, restaurants and theaters. We had a display of various interesting “Episcopal things” like a thurible, a chasuble, a wooden labyrinth, a chalice and paten, prayer books etc. We also had a colorful tri-fold flyer that we had printed, there to distribute. And we had some little kids trinkets to give away.
  2. For July 4th—we set up two canopies along the parade route and invited our church folks to come before the parade and join us for a short morning prayer service focused on prayers for our Nation.


Well, as for the Parade--we need to start the prayer service earlier because by half an hour before the parade the announcers are already going on the loud speaker and it was really hard to hear. But we did have a few passersby join us for prayer. We had our church banner out and were able to wave at everyone in the parade—without having to make a float or be in the direct sun—a great advantage considering many of the elderly in our congregation.

And the Booth on July 3rd? This was a great opportunity to just hang out together with a wide variety of church members who came out to be part of this “down town” event. The volunteers for our booth that day ranged in age from 9 years old to 82 years old. We had about 100 people stop by and ask us questions. A few engaged in theological debates with us. Some said they were looking for a church and might try ours out. A few Episcopalians did not even know we had an Episcopal church in town—and were glad to learn it. But to me the coolest comment of the day was when one person said to me, “I think you guys are the only church out here. This is neat, you are doing like the Bible says to do, and taking the gospel to the streets—where the people are.”

That one comment has been enough to inspire me to keep looking for interesting ways to take this good news to the streets.

This post was first published on ECF Vital Practices July 4, 2013.

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