Jun 30, 2016

During the Annual Conference, June 16-17, some enthusiastic leaders told us how their churches are living out this year’s Annual Conference theme by opening wide their hearts in ministries of outreach and welcome to their communities.

We recorded six short video interviews during a conference session lunch break. In these brief segments, we learn from testimony how local churches in our conference are nourishing their neighbors in body, mind and spirit, while sharing the love and liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ll feature a few on our website each week; but you can view all six by visiting our conference YouTube page.

open arms 2016 ac logoIn the first two interviews:

  1. The Rev. Sandra Cislo, pastor of Cokesbury UMC in Marcus Hook, and lay member Marian Grayson share briefly about their church’s Reading and Lunch program for neighborhood kids and their first- Sundays community supper ministry that now feeds about 70 people.”Anyone can come eat with us as long as they have an empty belly and an open heart,” says Grayson. “It’s just like coming to Mom’s house.”
  2. Anthony Washington and Jean Kershaw of New Vision UMC in Philadelphia love nurturing their community with food, faith and fellowship. They host a Family Bible Study on Wednesday nights and serve a savory meal that Jean and her crew prepare. They also feed a hearty breakfast to the community on Sunday mornings. In fact they’ve been doing it for the past 14 years. Many of their diners stay for Sunday school and morning worship.

Kershaw says she was inspired to start this ministry during a conference Laity Academy. “We want to satisfy both physical and spiritual appetites.”

“So come for the food,” Washington chimes in, “but stay for the Word and the fellowship.”

How is your church opening wide its heart to its community or to the world? Write to tell us about it, or record a short video clip and send it to us. We may welcome and record more testimonies of heart-opening ministry at future conference gatherings this year–maybe at the Laity Academy in August and the Annual Conference Adjourned Session in October.