Church: Homestead UMC
District: River Valley
Submitted by: Homestead Church
Root beer floats, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, burgers, new neighbors and a vibrant congregation came together on Aug. 5 to celebrate National Night Out in Rochester.
Members of Homestead Church and residents of the nearby Wedgewood Hills neighborhood combined efforts to create a memorable experience for their community. Both groups had planned separate National Night Out events to take place at the same park—but after learning this, they decided that blending the parties would be better for everyone.
They were right. More than 250 neighbors (most of them with children) and church members showed up at the event.
The Rochester Police Department took notice, awarding both groups the “Collaborative Church and Neighborhood Award” on Aug. 27—an award that was created specifically for this joint effort.
“The judges were taken aback by the fact that we had two separate parties at the same place and everyone was getting along,” said event organizer and Homestead member Nancy Emerick. “They wanted to make sure everyone knows that [the event] was a really positive thing.”
Homestead Church, which recently restarted in a new location with a new pastor, decided to participate in National Night Out because members wanted to meet their new neighbors. The congregation is currently renting space but has purchased land in the same neighborhood and will eventually build a church there.
Beyond the meet and greet and root beer floats, some neighbors filled out surveys for the church; it asked questions about how a new neighborhood church could benefit their families—and what they are looking for in a church.
Because of the success, the church is already committed to next year’s National Night Out.
Homestead members spent a lot of time getting the word out about the event. More than 30 volunteers from the church helped to mail postcards to 500 area households and handed out flyers. They had help from area stores, too: Both the ice cream and the root beer was donated.
Through this event, Homestead demonstrated radical hospitality and reached new people, some of whom it might eventually be able to welcome as members.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church