Building bridges with the community has been a primary focus for Manassas (Va.) Seventh-day Adventist church members this year. “We’ve been very intentional about reaching out to our local neighborhoods,” said Randy Davis, pastor. “Our community has been very responsive to our efforts in friendship. Several of the community kids have even helped us hand out flyers to our events.”
In early August, the church worked in conjunction with SERVE, a sector of Northern Virginia’s family services, to help students in need. Students requested supplies through the sector, giving them their name, school and grade. SERVE then purchased the supplies and put them in a backpack with the student’s name on it. These backpacks were taken to the Manassas church and handed out to participating students.
The church invited the community to their annual Vacation Bible School, offered the use of their school’s playground, recently purchased soccer goals for local kids to play on the church’s ball field and, during the summer, held Family Movie Nights, in which they would feature a family friendly movie and provide concessions. “The first movie we played was Courageous,” said Greg Charles, member, “which we showed at the local swimming pool. We provide free watermelon and our Pathfinders sold popcorn and other snacks. About 60 people from the neighborhood attended.” Since then, the church has been alternating between movies kids would enjoy as well as an older audience.
Evidence that the community is starting to respond to the churches efforts is seen in the tremendous turn out at their recent Neighborhood Fall Festival. Over 375 guests from the neighborhood came in response to the invitations handed out. Over 125 members attended to meet their neighbors and help out with the booths, crafts and concessions. “Because of this event, several families toured the church school and one may register their child in our school,” said Davis. “Twenty-nine people have requested additional information including Bible Studies, GED classes, ESL classes and other felt needs.”
Phil Dawson, elder for outreach at the church says, “Developing relationships is the first step in our ministry. Truly, God has blessed our efforts, and we pray He will continue to use each of us as we reach out to our neighbors for Him.”