Vincent United Methodist Church in Minot, North Dakota, is bringing God to their community. They held a block party for neighbors in the rain. It was the second year of the block party.
"It rained, and we had to cancel the inflatables. People from the congregation and the guests were very gracious. We moved indoors. It turned out to be a great opportunity for relationship building. Indoors, there was more of a chance to have conversations," said Rev. Mark Erhmantraut, Vincent UMC. "There was more energy because we were having conversations and interacting. We joked about how we have been praying for rain, but you can't pick and choose when the rain comes."
Hundreds of people came for a meal and activities. Corporate partners allowed the opportunity to give away back-to-school items. Members of Vincent handed out school supplies, gift cards for haircuts, and shoes.
Prayer continues to fuel the ministry at Vincent UMC. Each meeting, every small group starts with prayer. "We are not just starting small groups; we are starting with prayer. We are being a lot more intentional to strengthen our prayer journey," said Pastor Mark. "We continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to break through."
The Holy Spirit is breaking through with the launch of Sunday school at Vincent UMC. "We have not had a Sunday school program for several years. We are starting Sunday school for children and adults. We started youth group midyear last year and are continuing this fall. We moved our worship time on Sunday mornings to make space for the ministry," Pastor Mark said. "We seek to be faithful and see where God takes us."
A team of ten people will be involved in leading the Sunday school ministry. Each week, six people will be involved in the children's ministry. People will rotate so everyone does not have to be present or lead each week.
"We're using a Vacation Bible School type model. We start with large group, where the main story is shared. Then we move into small group for activities—science, art, drama. The Sunday school will be held downstairs. At the end of the Sunday school, everybody comes upstairs, going into the Fellowship Hall, where people are having coffee before worship. We plan to sing some songs together. It will be a fun way to get ready for worship."
Sunday worship will start at 10 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. Sunday school will begin at 9:30 a.m. for children, youth, and adults. People can also gather in the Fellowship Hall for coffee and fellowship before worship. At 11 a.m., everyone is invited for fellowship and coffee again.
"There are a lot of people that connect during our fellowship times. I think we are well poised for something like the dinner church model," said Pastor Mark.
As the colder months approach, Vincent UMC will begin preparing and serving meals once a week for Project Bee. Originating as the YWCA of Minot, the organization has provided emergency shelter and housing assistance to men, women, and children for over a century.
The congregation continues with their Blessing Box Ministry. Two Blessing Boxes are located on the east and west sides of the church and provide free items to people in need in the community. Grocery, household, baby care, and hygiene items are available for people in the neighborhood to come by and take what is needed. The team that keeps the boxes stocked has expanded to 12 people. The boxes are stocked daily, and the team maintains the inventory supplied.
"We continue to make connections in unexpected ways. We saw some guests with Project Bee giving items to the Blessing Box Ministry. God works in ways we can't predict," Pastor Mark said.
On December 13, the Christmas Blessing Event will take place. It will be in a convention space with a buffet meal thanks to a partnership with the Sleep Inn. There are three parts to the Christmas Blessing Event: A Christmas meal, shopping for gifts, and a Christmas program.
Pastor Mark shares, "The Sleep Inn in Minot, which is the hotel that has the big water park, will serve as the host for the Christmas Blessing Event and provide the meal. The Sleep Inn provides all the staff and food for a full buffet. At the event, we do Christmas shopping. We have corporate donors who provide gifts. We [members from Vincent UMC] help people with shopping and wrapping gifts. Then, we do a no-rehearsal Christmas program. Anybody that is there can participate."
God is on the move in Minot, North Dakota, and Vincent UMC is exploring ways to reach the next person for Jesus. "It's not all clean and tidy. It gets a little messy, but that's just real life and real faith," said Pastor Mark.
Fresh Expressions Imagine Day | September 30
What is God already doing in people’s lives and how do we join in? That question is the premise of the Fresh Expressions movement. Rev. Dr. Michael Beck wants to help you explore it and take tangible steps to reach new people in your community. Your first step? Register for Imagine Day on Sept. 30, and bring a team!