When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1
On May 31, Pentecost Sunday, the congregation of Alexander City First UMC (Southeast District) celebrated by being all together in one place, with one heart for worship and service. The one worship service led to members leaving the church building and going out to serve their local community in the name of Christ. They had approximately 170-180 members of the church who participated in the full day long event.
The idea for the event began one day when Alexander City First UMC Senior Pastor Dr. Bill Etheridge and Associate Pastor Rev. Kevin Payne were traveling together to Birmingham. They started discussing plans for the different worship services. As the conversation continued their thoughts turned to Pentecost Sunday and a wish to do something extra-special in celebration of that day – combining all three worship services!
Several years back Bill had a special youth service during Pentecost that focused on the twelve apostles. This was a very powerful service, and he had always wanted to use this idea for a church congregation. Kevin shared he wanted to have a combined service which celebrated and involved different aspects of each worship service as a way to emphasize the many diverse ways in which we can express our worship to God. Both wanted to engage with the congregation in some tangible way to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s leading and giving life to the Church. As the two continued discussing how best to celebrate Pentecost, the plan to combine all three services into one Pentecost service for worship, enjoy a fellowship lunch together, and immediately go into the community to “Be the Church” in a very meaningful way was born. This idea was a perfect match with the congregation’s mission statement, which is Connecting our Community to Christ.
Bill and Kevin shared their idea during a church wide Planning Retreat and was immediately and overwhelmingly embraced by everyone there. Their enthusiasm was contagious and before the end of the retreat, ideas were flying throughout the fellowship hall.
The church was inspired by one statement that precedes the out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. “They were all together in one place.” The congregation agreed that this was no accident. They decided “for God’s will and His spirit to work in our lives as a community of faith we must come together. We must join together in seeking God’s presence. We must join together that we may become more effective in our witness and service in our community.”
The day included Worship, a picnic lunch, afternoon service projects and an ending celebration and ice cream fellowship time.
Work projects all happened out in the community. Those included building a wheelchair ramp; fixing bathrooms and plumbing; building a deck and replacing a floor; yard work and building covers for A/C units at a local school; Neighborhood clean up, connecting, and prayer walk; working with children on the community garden; cleaning lot for the next Habitat for Humanity home; roadside clean-up; and preparing for Vacation Bible School. Volunteers also visited a local Assisted Living facility, prepared drinks for the picnic and ice cream for the fellowship celebration.