The 2023 Church Conferences by Connexon Zone included a challenge to create an invitation to a ministry or mission event that was so enticing that we would all want to attend or participate. Of course, even the best invitation is useless if it is not sent out and shared. So, in addition to having a very attractive invitation the presentation of the invitation included the means by which the invitation would be shared.
I must say that we have awesome and creative churches in the Central Bay District. All our churches are champions at devising ministry and missional events which seek to share the love of God in a variety of ways into their communities and parishes! It was very difficult to choose the ultimate winners of the $250 prize from the District to be used to continue to reach out with actions and the message of God’s love. Here are the results from each Connexon Zone.
Zone 1 – Osceola & Mecosta Counties: Big Rapids Parish.
The Big Rapids Parish has adopted a the Seret Hall Memory Care Unit of the local assisted care facility. At Christmas they find out what each person in the unit would like for Christmas and provide personal care items and a special gift for each. They invite others to participate with them by sending out a Christmas Card to churches, agencies and individuals early in November inviting them to participate with them in providing Christmas cheer to many who are forgotten. Every Church in the Connexon Zone was then given an invitation.
Zone 2 – Clare & Isabella: Rosebush.
The Rosebush church has for a few years now engaged in Beer and the Bible. This is a gathering of people at a local bar to discuss issues of the day from a Biblical perspective. While it includes several persons from the church, it draws persons who patron the bar and has created good discussions, opportunities for relationships to be built, and lives to be changed. The invitation is made by Facebook, a weekly public blog, and soon a bill board.
Zone 3 – Midland & Gladwin. St Charles and 4 Points.
Last year, St Charles began a Make-n-Take night for adults to bring their children, grandchildren, and children they have a good relationship with to the church to create craft-gifts to be given to family members for Christmas. Last year’s gifts included dog treats, snow globes, bird feeders, and more. The evening includes a meal for all in attendance. They invite using their electronic sign, social media, and posters around town; but the best invite is a special arrangement they have made with the local school to have a flyer go home with the children the Friday before the event.
4 Points church is in the process of creating a youth center at its Swan Valley campus. Invitations were shared, but we were told that they were not for us, or any other adult for that matter. The invitations are for youth to share with youth. They will begin with a lock-in. the church electronic sign will be used as well as the all-campus hotline. But the primary means of invitation is friends inviting friends. They already have a large group of youth ready to experience their new youth center.
St Charles and 4 Points will share the prize 50-50.
Zone 4 – Arenac & Bay & Saginaw Counties: Standish Beacon of Life.
Beacon of Light already has a very active food pantry serving a plethora of families and individuals in the county. At Thanksgiving, Beacon of light will provide a free community dinner with all the trimmings. While they will use social media and flyers around the community, their intention is for those they serve with the food pantry. Therefore, every bag of food that is dispersed by the food pantry will have a flyer about the free dinner. In addition, the members of the church are committing to eating and engaging in conversation with all who come to begin building relationships with these often-forgotten members of their community.
Zone 5 – Ionia & Montcalm:
This Connexon Zone came ready to do ministry with many creative ideas, invitations, and means of getting the word out. Some examples are Pierson: Heritage, Walk with Jesus, interactive, ecumenical and even nonfaith persons engaging the wonder of Easter; Ionia: First, Community Drawers providing socks, underwear, winter coats and apparel; Belding, BUM – a thrift store with rock-bottom prices in the church service by people of the church and the community; Portland, Movie nights with popcorn and hot cocoa using proceeds for the Backpacks for Bellies program; Greenville, All Treats-no-Tricks on Halloween with warming station and restrooms available; Amble, Forward to the Past event remembering the past to envision the future for the church’s 150th anniversary and for the little community as well.
With so many good ministries and missions and all using and variety of means to get the word out, by mutual consent the connexon zone voted to give their prize to Delbert and Sandy Groves, missionaries in Zambia who had, prior to the church conference, presented to the folks from the zone. Great Hearts for God’s ministry.
Zone 6 – Clinton & Gratiot: Breckenridge
With the school just a short distance away, Breckenridge is opening its building for a 5th Quarter after home football and basketball games, providing a safe and secure place for highschoolers to gather after the game, enjoy and nacho bar and other snacks, games, and a place to hang and talk. As the wish to target the students, the invitations go out to the students at school and at the game. It continues to be very well attended.
CONGRATULATIONS to all our “winners.” Some of our winners received a prize to assist promoting their events. But all are winners burning the love of God to the lives and hearts of their communities.