“I don’t know if you know: Prince Albert is to the North of Canada–that the temperature was 22 degrees at the end of September was a God thing!” transition pastor Dyan Mouland says with a chuckle. Months before, something had been stirring in the congregation of Cornerstone FM. There are five churches in their neighborhood and it felt like they were the one that was invisible. The congregation resonated with the FM LifePlan vision and wanted to take responsibility for their community, but if no one knew they were there, how could they help? One woman brought an idea to Pastor Dyan and the Board: “We have beautiful grounds around the church. What if we get out of our building for a Community Kick-off and meet the community?”
The idea grew as the Board and church talked and prayed. Every Sunday morning for weeks beforehand Pastor Dyan was on stage talking about their Community Kick off event, encouraging the congregation to come out “even if you’re an introvert! Even if you only talk to one or two community people! The point of this event is to visit, visit, visit!” People readily responded and took ownership of the many details involved, from making connections with the local Food Coalition, to forming a band to provide live music, to volunteering to BBQ hot dogs or supervise the bouncy castle. They were looking forward to an opportunity to start a conversation with their neighbours. Cornerstone Community Kick-off had no other agenda, no message, no evangelistic flyers—just a church being present to the people in their community.
The day dawned fair and fine, and the congregation of Cornerstone Free Methodist church spread out on the grass around their building. Bouncy castles hummed, hot dogs sizzled, and a live band made up of young people from their church tuned up on the makeshift stage on a truck bed and trailer. ‘Borrowmania,’ named for the many Borrowman family members in the band, had prepared crowd-pleasers like Eric Clapton and the Beatles. Arlington Camp brought their slushie machine to make free slushies; the local Food Coalition was there with free seeds and bulbs for next year’s gardens. Families strolled by with kids on bikes and in strollers, and many stopped to chat. Almost every member of the congregation was present, from the young people manning the bouncy castles, to the elderly folks who pulled chairs out of the ‘Fellowship Hall’ to sit on the grass.
More than one person asked, “Why are you doing this?” The answer was easy: “Because we love our community.”
At the end of the day, the congregation was weary but exhilarated, saying things to each other like, “Next year we should…” They even balanced the budget, paying for the event costs with the sales from their BBQ and bake sale.
That Sunday morning, a friend from the neighbourhood stepped into their church service for the first time because she felt safe with the people she had chatted with outside the building the day before. The following week, a youth in their church contacted Pastor Dyan with a desire to spearhead a food collection drive on Halloween. The folks from Cornerstone church have always been active in serving the Prince Albert community as individuals, but this event made an important connection between their church gathered and their neighbourhood. No longer invisible, they are now the church with the free slushies and live music–not a bad place to start building a relationship with their community.