Root beer, ice cream, and Jesus were all part of the scene in Jamestown, North Dakota, one day after school. First United Methodist Church is just across the street from the middle school in Jamestown. Volunteers of the congregation dished up root beer floats and invited the students to check out the First UMC app.
The tasty treat was a way to introduce and invite the students to the Crosswalk afterschool program at First UMC. The name, Crosswalk, is derived from the walk from the Jamestown Middle School across the street to First UMC and the walk or journey of Jesus to the cross.
“You must walk across the street to get to the church,” said Pastor Travis Voelz. “We like to cross the street to Crosswalk to experience the journey to the cross.”
Students were handed a card with a QR code that took them to an app for First UMC. The app and the card listed information about Crosswalk, other Wednesday night events, and Sunday worship.
The after school program features a snack, lesson, and games. “They come for Crosswalk. Some stay to help with all our Wednesday night programming,” said Pastor Travis.
Crosswalk happens after school until 5:15 p.m. At 4:45-5:15 p.m., Wiggles on Wednesday, a pre-school through Kindergarten program, is held. At 5:30-6:15 p.m., a Wednesday night blended worship service is held. After worship, there is Bible study for high school students and adults.
Volunteers prepared 300 root beer floats, most of which were gone in about 25 minutes. “It was amazing to see. We were blessed with volunteers that had scooped ice cream in cups and put them in the freezer earlier that day,” said Voeltz. “When the school bell rang, it took about 25 minutes to add the root beer and hand them out to the kids.”
Voeltz was across the street near the Jamestown Middle School, inviting students to come to get their root beer float. After inviting one student, the student asked him to hold his bookbag while he ventured across to the root beer floats.
“It was the funniest thing. I invited him to get a root beer float and handed him a card. He said, ‘hold this.’ So he rode his bike across the street and returned,” said Pastor Travis. “I guess I was left holding the bag.”
Pastor Travis is the Pastor of Discipleship at First UMC. He said it is all about the invitation, connecting, and building relationships.
“You are always trying to plant the seeds,” he said. “I prayed hard to welcome these kids. We want them to feel welcome and grow in their faith.”