“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
We have friends and family–and of course my blog readers (thank you)–all around the world and here in the USoA. We are using a GoFundMe to help raise some funds for our summer park ministry. Lisa, my wife, and I are also having a BBQ fundraiser in our backyard (we turn it in a mini-park experience) this coming Saturday, May 5th, for this ministry and we know many of you are too far to come join us–but may want to help us out.
This is a particularly powerful ministry we call "In His Midst," because when we, CPC in The Hill, show up in the park, Jesus walks among the most vulnerable of us who have, that evening, decided to be in the park–those that enjoy some Park Preaching, a meal that evening, and some neighborly fellowship.
If you are too far to come to the BBQ and would still like to help ensure we have the resources for this summer, please consider helping us out. Here's the link to the GoFundMe page >> https://www.gofundme.com/2019-cpc-in-the-hill-bbq-ministry
We can't do this without you!
I am exhausted. But, this is exactly how I should feel.
After some CPC in The Hill events, I sometimes say to myself, “This is a younger person’s game.” Inner city, urban, church planting. Seriously. Planting a church in a poor neighborhood. After these events, I often feel exhausted at two and a half months shy of 59. Yet, it is a good exhaustion. I would not want to be doing anything else, frankly, or be anywhere else.
Although I am certainly not alone with all the work—I have good volunteers, for sure—nonetheless, I do feel exhausted after every CPC in The Hill event where I stand for three to four hours, lift and carry things my body tells me are too heavy, so much shopping, the set up and tear down, carrying again, and at least three hours of non-stop talking to people. Good people in hard places (almost always). Messy lives. So much brokenness. Yet, trying to piece together a life here in The Hill. Exhaustion must be my spiritual gift.
Yesterday, late afternoon-evening, CPC in The Hill had its third Neighborhood Sidewalk BBQ in the Hill—a Summer-to-Fall celebration with our neighbors. (We have one in the Spring as well.) Not quite a block party, but sort of, without blocking the cars from getting through. And the neighbors came. At least a hundred of them. A bunch at first. Then, slowly until dark. They came up the sidewalk to Maxine’s house, where we pitched a canopy, set up tables, and had the grills fired up. Hot Dogs. Hamburgers. Chicken. Even some Georgia Red Hots! And, tables filled with fruit, salads, dishes prepared by our people—and a few pans of Spanish rice prepared by one of the neighbors—and some deserts.
And, what a treat: Tony, Maxine’s neighbor, volunteered his DJ service to play for the duration of the event (no charge, simply because it’s what neighbors do). An hour and a half of Christian Hip Hop and Christian R&B. His mix. Excellent. And to close out the time, Tony’s friends came (on their own time) and gave us a nice Latin beat to finish off the evening. How could you not dance!
Our amazing CPC in The Hill family. The effort and love they put in serving our neighbors—for nearly a three-hour stretch, too. Some of them on their feet serving food for the whole time. All of them there on the sidewalk serving their neighbors. Gracious. Loving. Standing! Nigeria and John at the grills—sweating and persistent for hours. It was excellent to observe. Plenty of neighborhood kids. Okay, I love it when they shout out, “Hey, Pastor Chip,” and, then, give me a hand pump. I was called “cool” a couple of time—how can I not love that! And, the teens showed up en mass. I counted thirty. Free food. Of course. But still, church, 30 teens! (See why we need that youth worker to wake.)
As I walked the street to invite those hanging outside or on their porches, and, then before I offered a prayer at the beginning of the feast, I shouted out, “This is the neighborhood’s table, come join us.” I prayed. Gave thanks for the food and for our neighbors—and for the Hill. And they did come for three hours—and Jesus was in their midst because CPC in The Hill was there to love and serve them in our neighborhood. What a great evening. People blessed us. We talked about Jesus. People asked us about our church. Some might join us (hoping—God make it so).
A homeless couple we met and served in the park two summers ago, wandered into the food line. They were so glad to see us—thanked us for the meal. They’ve been sleeping in a tent down at a nearby river (yes, even through last winter). They finally have been approved for a temporary, subsidized apartment. They’ll call me when they get a move-in date—so I can pray for them and ask God’s blessing on their new home. A twenty-something young man told me, “I hardly ever see this for free in the Hill. This is a God thing.” I said,
“We love it because it causes the neighborhood to come together. Yes, we are a church and this is a church event, but it’s because we believe we are the body of Christ in this neighborhood and we want God’s love to draw people together. So, for one moment—our vast differences don’t matter, the deep wounds that separate us are lessened, and everyone from the homeless to the homeowner, from the family trying to make ends meet to the drug and alcohol addicted, to the gang member and wondering teens to the all the single-women [head of households], all find space—a place—at our neighborhood table.”
He replied, “Now that’s what we are talking about. Amen. So beautiful. Even if it’s just for a moment. And, it’s a good moment.”
As the sun begun to set in the Hill and the food mostly gone by now, I noticed a lady—adult, not too old, 25 to 30 maybe (if I guessed I’d embarrass myself and her, too)—making her way down the sidewalk. She walked with a cane. Slowly. When I had walked the neighborhood to invite people, she was sitting outside. My name is Star. She whispered. I assume she had a stroke—so young, too. And, she came. It was a good final picture of the evening for me. Broken, wounded, hurt, slow, but desiring the table prepared for her. It was a picture of many of the lives in The Hill. We just need to be present among them. They will come. Slowly, perhaps, and with their brokenness. We are the church and we are, most certainly, their neighbors.
It was a good exhaustion.
Of course, without the support and under-writing of our anchor church, events like this would be impossible for our under-resourced little congregation. We hope to keep this up—even expand to more events, more neighborhood BBQs—as more partners join us. But as the initial anchor-church funds decrease and our fundraising partnerships need to increase we will need more partners to make this happen. You can help by becoming a partner with CPC in The Hill and offering to extend your ministry by supporting us in The Hill.
Feel free to donate through our church planting collaborative, Mission Anabaino, website (pull down the "Donation Applied" and click "Hill Church Plant - Chip Anderson"). Thanks in advance! Donate >>
In an urban context, especially with those communities facing severe poverty, we can often forget the teens in our midst “at church,” the ones right there wondering if it is all worth it. They see a small struggling, under-resourced church trying to survive. There isn’t a functioning youth group, except for a few teens who hang with the pastor from time to time. I learned something, however, this weekend about our CPC in The Hill teens:
My wife and I had an incredible time on Saturday (9/12) at the Urban Youth Workers Institute’s east coast ReLoad conference. An added joy: two of our teens from CPC in The Hill joined us in Brooklyn for the day event. Yes, our teens knew it was not a youth conference, but an Urban Youth Worker conference.
All the better.
They got to see a large group of committed Christian workers of all ages, of all races (and yes, I know there’s only one race—human—but you know what I mean), and from a wide range of backgrounds that have one thing in common: to reach, disciple, and care for urban young people just like them. And, they were also able to see various examples, stories, and creative efforts to reach urban teens from national leaders (some spoken, some even rapped). Our teens saw and heard the commitment to reach teens in neighborhoods just like the Hill. The leaders at the conference told me they were encouraged by the presence of our CPC in The Hill teens at the conference—they’re what we do this for!
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.