“No other church does this.”
“No other church does this.”
I’ve heard this a number times at events and meetings over the years I have been in the Hill as pastor of CPC in The Hill.
If one thing stands out over these years, thus far, I find it rather amazing the ability our Hill church has to connect with its community.
I have come to truly appreciate our core group here at Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill. This small group of people five years ago, a little confused, hurt, skeptical, yet still discipled well (thanks Pastor Tolivar!) to be a family and be focused on loving their neighbors, moved forward in confidence that Christ was still in their midst. Our congregation has been able to maintain its weekly Sunday worship, its discipleship and its Ladies' Bible study, and, as well, sustained its impact on the community through multiple events and activities throughout the year. Almost without fail, at a community event or activity, someone would approach me to say they appreciate how we “get into the neighborhood and love on the people.”
Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill has maintained and even strengthened its connection to its neighborhood, the Hill community of New Haven, CT. The summer “In His Midst” park BBQ ministry sees, now, between 65-85 people each week at Trowbridge Square Park, for hot dogs and hamburgers, a park sermon, prayer, and some neighborly fellowship. On the last evening in August, we pass out 100 backpacks (that's to the Beacon Bikers) and some school supplies to all the kids. To celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of school, the Hill Church hosted a neighborhood sidewalk BBQ down the street from our place of worship at the home of one of our members. All our neighbors are invited. We sent letters to all the summer soccer camp families, went up and down the street inviting everyone sitting on their porches and front steps, and told people walking by on the sidewalk to join us. In the end we saw easily over 120 people stop by—they eat, we talk, share our stories and listened to theirs, and shared the love of Jesus with our neighbors.
Of course other churches to what we do. The reason, perhaps, that we stand out and people says this is because we through ourselves with intention into our community. We show up a lot. Everyone we can. Starting the first Wednesday in July, we'll be back at Trowbridge Square Park with our grill, loving on our park neighbors.
Donations to help this Summer's Park BBQ would be greatly appreciated >> 2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
God's Feet are Firmly Planted in The Hill: Summer “In His Midst” Hot Dog & Hamburger Ministry in the Park
During the Summer, CPC in The Hill brings a grill and homemade dishes, along with fruit, salads, and cookies, each Wednesday evening to a nearby park—and offers a meal to anyone who is there, or walking by, or the neighbors.
A wide range of people are there: Families, single moms with their kids, a few dads with kids, too, teens (plenty of teens), and many people whose lives are broken, hurting, and struggling with addictions. There are a number of homeless as well, for whom this is their only meal for the day—perhaps for even a few days.
Now we can average 65-70 people and on a few evenings up to 85-90, even 100+, throughout the quick two hours in the park. My audience for the message can be 3x my Sunday morning's.
2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
One year, Isaiah 66 was my theme for my park preaching. The good people in the park help me out. I explain the verses, then I lift my arm and point to the sky, and I say:
If God’s throne is in . . . “heaven” (they all yell out) and the earth is God’s . . . “footstool” (they announce), then God’s feet are firmly planted in the . . . “Hill” (they shout loudly).
Our ministries in the community seek to show that God cares about The Hill and that our desire is to find ways to help our community to flourish. Please consider helping us ensure we have the resources for this summer's (2019) BBQ Park ministry: 2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraise
A year ago I preached on Isaiah 58 at Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill and, then, the following week, I had the privilege of bringing this same massage to the CPC church plant in Fairfield/Bridgeport.
We--at CPC in The Hill--are continually surprised (not really) that we seem to continually come back around to food, the subject of eating in messages (they're all over the Bible), in the very thing that the NT teaches was at the center of the church's gathering--a meal. I think it is pretty clear that God designed us to meet Him in the sharing of food.
It is interesting that the biblical concept of Sabbath is also actually linked to food as well.
Someone recently asked me if I could drop a dime on the spot in the Hill . . . for CPC in The Hill to find a more permanent home (or own building). . . I'd find it dropped on a spot we can turn into our place of worship AND a place of food (a cafe, inviting the "tax collector and sinners" to a meal, meals and worship, BBQs).
"God, we need a place to set ourselves as CPC in The Hill where we can focus on food, eating . . . "
But for now, its sidewalk meals and BBQs and BBQs in the Park . . .
It is interesting that the prodigal son parable is most often preached without the center (the climax of each), the focus Jesus gives it, and of which Luke sets it in within the narrative. It is interesting that the ONE-in-THREE parable stories of Luke 15 is centered in celebrating at a meal. The parable-trio is given because the poor, marginalized, unclean, uneducated (the socially non-elite) were "eating" with Jesus and the established Temple leadership had problems with that (cf. Luke 15:1-2). Just prior to the parable of the Three Lost Things (again Luke 15), we read about the Great Banquet where the poor and marginalized are invited (Luke 14). We need to follow the whole thread that Luke sets before us (much more openly as we interpret his parables of the Three Lost Things). The three parables were given to judge the accusers (that's what parables do bytheway). Each parable ends with feasting. My goodness, how can we not see the importance of this cultural and literary (i.e., Luke's) context!
And it doesn't surprise us that "food" is right there in the Isaiah 58 Sabbath text:
"Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
This is the privilege, scope, and responsibility of Sabbath pleasure. What are you doing--what is the church doing--so that others may find rest? To find God? Today, as we do every Wednesday evening during the summer, that is, bring a grill into our nearby Hill park and put on a feast of hot dogs and hamburgers and salads and fruit and desert for whoever is in the park.
Our 1st evening of the 2019 season of In His Midst Park BBQ Ministry >> Check it out
Our Summer Park BBQ ministry: Even when the deluge fell, grilling and serving continued (from 2019)
Each week at our summer BBQ in the Park, I witness God’s grace through those who do the serving. While, too often, I get the credit and the thank yous, it is, actually, the CPC in The Hill congregation that is serving and loving on the people in the Park.
This is church, the body of Christ, visible to the community. This is an illustration of what we affirm as a church: At the Park on a summer Wednesday evening, you will see the church as the body of Christ, the mediatorial presence of Jesus. Amid the hot dogs, salads, fruit, desert, and the mixture of lives joined over a meal, in a very real way, if you want to see Jesus, you can through the CPC in The Hill serving together, loving on its neighbors. This is truly a sign of the Kingdom of God, right there in Trowbridge Square Park.
This is no more evident than during a deluge one Wednesday evening— yes, it poured BIG TIME! We saw it coming—and still made the decision to get to the park, set up, and serve as many as we could before the rain fell. We probably served about 40+ when it started pouring. And it came down heavy. Yet, people still kept coming—lining up--and our servers kept serving.
One young lady (pictured below next to the girl with the pan over her head) had been volunteering to help with drinks at the coolers. Eventually drenched to the bone, she still stayed at her post until the last person went through the line. Along with a few other young ladies, this young women, a teenager, often helps us at the park and at Sunday service setting up in the morning. Pictured here (above and below at the grill) is our Nigeria still grilling until the last hot dog was done, last hamburger grilled, and last person had something to eat.
We have a no cancelation policy. No matter the weather. No matter. We somehow make it work so the people have something to eat.
Please help us ensure we have the resources for this important summer ministry >> 2021 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
For the past 4 and a half years, I have been able to get to know the good people who live in the Hill and they get to know me at our Summer Park BBQ evenings. Now, Lisa and I are getting to know the Hill people as neighbors, since we moved into the Hill this past January.
During the summer, the people we meet in the park during our evenings of ministry say the darnedest things:
One newcomer to our Park BBQ ministry, a 20something in dreads, one Wed-evening told me, after I introduced myself as Pastor Chip, “You don't look like the pastor.”
I replied, “I don't. What do I look like?”
“You look like someone who belongs to this church.”
I can live with that.
Please consider helping us ensure this ministry happens this summer. Please give to our annual campaign for our summer park BBQ ministry >> 2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
On any given "In His Midst" BBQ evening, many will be truly homeless for the night (and we might very well be in their bedroom)
On any given Wednesday evening this summer, when we open with prayer and I give a short park sermon, standing around me will be a nice size group of people. Then, as the line gathers for the hot dogs and hamburgers, it will not stop until 85, many times 100 people, and even on more than a few days, will pass through. Among them will be many who are homeless . . .
At that hour, 5:30-6:30pm or so, if there are homeless among us (and there will be quite a few)—and, they're not out for dinner—they are indeed homeless for that night. The shelters and available beds are all gone at 4:00pm and the rest just have to figure out what to do for the evening. Many will not have had a meal that day (maybe no real food all week) and this park BBQ will be their only meal before finding a small space to sleep for the night. Sadly, we encounter a number of homeless families with children as well.
The Summer Park BBQ is not a solution to the homelessness problem; nor is it a solution to food scarcity for many who are in the Hill. But, it does put food before those that need it that night and it helps our church (and me as a local pastor) to become friends and known by those most in need.
We want to do more.
But we know, for now, it is the Summer Park BBQ ministry that we can do—with your help. Please consider supporting us so we may have the resources for the 2019 CPC in The Hill summer park BBQ ministry.
Please consider helping:: 2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
PS The above verses are to remind us that Jesus himself was homeless, that apostles were homeless, and that God desires his people to be identified with the homeless.
Wasted Blogger, Chip M. Anderson
I am the pastor and church planter for Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill; a flawed practitioner of Wasted Evangelism. I am learning about Wasted Evangelism through my experience in The Hill and through the good people of CPC in The Hill.