By Janice Kiaski*
More than 500 area residents turned out for the Richmond United Methodist Church’s eighth-annual all-free community party, an outreach event that extends hospitality; gives participants an opportunity to have food, fun and fellowship; and promotes the church’s mission statement of “reaching, teaching and serving in Christ’s name.”
Among the attractions were pony rides for children; a petting zoo; inflatables; wagon rides; children’s crafts; face painting; free photos of the children; door prizes for all age groups; and live entertainment showcasing two church members’ vocal and musical talents in addition to The Master’s Voices, a visiting Southern Gospel group from Stow, Ohio.
Free food offerings ran the gamut from hot dogs with all the fixings, ice cream, pulled pork sandwiches and haluski to pasta salad, popcorn, nachos and cheese and beverages.
There also were a number of informational booths on hand to promote services offered in the area, including a health van providing free screenings; the county health department; the public library; a recycling agency; a weight loss program; the local fire department providing free smoke detectors; the Richmond Lions Club; and the church-sponsored Boy Scout troop.
Free school supplies also were made available to children to prepare them for a fresh start to a new school year. It all added up to the church’s way of demonstrating God’s love, according to Gay Warren, event chairman
“This party is provided by the church for the community as a way to reach out to our neighbors and share our hospitality as we strive to live our motto of ‘Reaching, Teaching, and Serving in Christ’s Name,'” Warren said, noting the event is funded by the generosity of the church’s members.
“The Richmond UMC (Ohio Valley District) has been in the present location in the community since 1813 with circuit riders establishing their presence in the community in 1799. The church, under the leadership of the Rev. Carol Smith, is a warm and friendly church that invites all to come and share the love of Jesus Christ. It is a multi-generational church that provide programs for all ages,” Warren explained.
While the community party serves as a time for area residents to have some summer fun, it’s also a vehicle for the church to distribute New Testaments; to extend invitations to services, Sunday School and church programs; and to promote upcoming outreaches, among them Vacation Bible School, a Blessing of the Backpacks and a Blessing of the Animals ceremony in September.
“We enjoy organizing this community party where everyone, no matter their age, can savor a few hours of free fun, food and fellowship. We want the community to know that the church is a loving and caring church and that all are always welcomed,” Warren said.
*Kiaski is a member of Richmond United Methodist Church.