Rev. Rick Craig and the three United Methodist Churches of Rolla, Cando, and Rock Lake in ND want to make disciples through an intentional effort to reach out to children and families. Cando members stepped out recently to connect with the folks at Sunrise Apartment complex in their community and start The Neighbor Club ministry.
Cando is striving to establish relationships beyond the church. The Sunrise Apartment complex is a low-income housing facility with young families. On the second Sunday of each month, The Neighborhood Club—the name for this new ministry, will be held in the community room at the apartment complex. There will be a simple meal, children’s activities, and a speaker. For the first event this fall, Bob Curl, a member of Cando UMC, shared his model airplane hobby.
Pastor Rick said, “Some Cando church people came with fear and trepidation, but they came. We learned that we need to improve our advertising and marketing. We need to work on intermingling; we need to be more intentional about talking with everyone. We stepped outside of the church walls, and we reached out to people we did not know. It’s about building relationships.”
Rolla UMC, another in this three-point charge, was awarded the One Matters Award at Annual Conference in 2018. The One Matters Award was created to celebrate the importance of baptisms and professions of faith because one matters. Rolla is without a doubt a small church in membership, but what it lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in heart.
Rolla UMC gathers for brunch every Sunday. It is a time for community fellowship. No one is alone. They reach out and show love for each other. There is a cash offering. As people learned that the excess cash donations were being used for needs such as transportation expenses for medical appointments, the contributions increased. The congregation sees brunch as a valuable way to allow newcomers to interact with the congregation.
One disconnected member sought to have a grandchild baptized. As Pastor Rick met with the young couple to discuss baptism, the child’s grandmother asked questions about baptism and her faith in Jesus. She wondered if the grandmother and granddaughter could be baptized together.
The Dorcas Society of Rolla UMC is a group that gathers to do knitting, crocheting, quilting to create items to give away. The group includes others in the community. Dorcas society is a local group of people, usually based in a church, with a mission of providing clothing to the poor. Dorcas societies are named after Dorcas (also called Tabitha), a person described in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 9, v. 36).
At Rock Lake UMC, the Sunday School program had been re-established a few years ago. The congregation had suspended the children’s ministry program because there was a lack of participants. There has been a growth in the number of families with young children attending Rock Lake UMC prompting the startup of Sunday School.
When asked for advice to other small, rural churches, Rev. Rick Craig, pastor of United Methodist Churches of Rolla, Cando, Rock Lake, said, “There is this notion that somehow we are ‘less than.’ There isn’t a church that can out love us. We can be a caring presence in these communities.”
Three churches, one charge, making disciples for the transformation of the world.