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
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.
Imagine the grill is smoking with sizzling hot dogs and hamburgers. Tables are set with various salads, some fruit, a few homemade dishes, and, of course, cookies. You notice a handful of people milling about the park, some are sitting on benches, and children with their parents watching are climbing on the playground.
You’ve already made the rounds to introduce yourself as Pastor Chip. You recall that most of these enjoying the park are broken and live rather messy lives and at this hour, some are certainly homeless. Now, in a few minutes a meal will be ready. You've told everyone you've met, “Come join us when you hear me shout, ‘The hot dogs are ready!’”
2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
You’re hoping for a good crowd, but at first you don’t see a high turn out this evening. The park crowd seems small. But, in time, that changes.
Our Nigeria, at the grill says, “We’re ready.”
You shout out, “Hot Dogs are ready. Come join us!” And in a few moments a small crowd of teens, children, and adults appear (as if out of no where) around the tables. Some even know you’re going to preach a little; but, yet, they still come. Now, you’re surrounded by 40-plus families (sometimes 80+) and a number of parentless teens. You welcome them and tell them, “We are Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill and thank you for letting us be your guests in your park this evening.”
You open your Bible to Psalm 23 and begin, “The Lord is my _____________.” And, the crowd without being asked fills in the blank: “Shepherd.” You continue: “I shall not _____________.” They add, “want.” And then, you declare, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of _________.” “Death!” they fill in. “I shall fear no ___________.” “Evil,” they shout without hesitation. You identify with them: “We all have seen too much ‘death’ in our neighborhood. We all know what “evil” looks like.” They all nod in agreement. Some even say, “Amen.” You have their attention. You let them know there is a Shepherd who wants to walk with them through that valley of the shadow of death so they can brave and even deliver them from that “evil.”
This happens every Wednesday evening, with different messages, throughout the summer. For nine weeks Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill shares a BBQ meal in a nearby park. For some, it’s their only meal that day; for some, the only meal in a few days. This is what we call our “In His Midst” ministry—to show up where Jesus is already working, seeking to change lives. The good people of CPC in The Hill is in that park to share the love of Jesus over a meal, spending time listening to their stories and offering prayer, sometimes a scripture, and, mostly, encouragement. This year we have had many more intentional conversations about God and what Jesus has done for them. The “In His Midst” ministry is a natural megaphone to our community that CPC in The Hill cares about its neighbors. I even receive some calls during the week with requests for prayer or just to talk. Pray that the relationships we are developing in that park move toward Jesus, the Shepherd ready and open to change their lives.
Please consider helping us >> 2019 CPC in The Hill Summer Park BBQ Ministry Fundraiser
Cinco de Mayo, today, is a celebration (not of Mexico’s Independence Day, which is September 16th, but to) commemorate the Mexican Army's difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Ironically, I was watching Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and it was a little weird to hear Captain Picard narrate the final defeat of the Borg, “Captain’s log April the 5th, 2063 . . .” We certainly like commemorating war victories . . . soon we will celebrate Memorial Day, this year, May 28th (and rightly so to remember those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces) and, of course, the 4th of July (our own independence day).
Today, at the Anderson’s in Bridgeport, we will have our own celebration: We have an open invitation to a simple backyard BBQ to celebrate that Jesus Christ defeated our mortal enemy, the devil, on that cruel cross and has opened the door, giving, to all and anyone who believes in the gospel, access to His house (the church), the forgiveness of sins, and life eternal (I mean real life, forever and ever).
Our backyard BBQ is our one time a year fundraiser to help us ensure we have the resources for our church, Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill, for our Summer Park BBQ. For 8 Wednesday we roll a grill into Trowbridge Square Park in the Hill community to serve hot dogs and hamburgers to whoever is in the park that evening. The average night has been between 65-70 served (even in the rain) and a few nights, 90+. For some, it will be their only meal that day and maybe the only real food for a few days.
The enemy has been defeated and we want the good people of the park to know this. I always preach and share the gospel before we eat (and the come, the almost all come and listen); I pray, we eat, and for about two hours CPC in The Hill loves on our Hill neighbors who are fighting battles most of us can’t even imagine.
This is the last call . . . the BBQ is today at 3:30 at our home in Bridgeport, come join us if you have the time and want to help . . . we turn our backyard into that park for an hour and a half or so . . .
FYI, if you can’t come and God is pushing you to help, we do have a GoFundMe as well . . . https://www.gofundme.com/2018-cpc-in-the-hill-bbq-ministry
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.