This report is from Living Christian Fellowship member Paul Hailey.
Living Faith Christian Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Portland, OR, has about 30 members. We meet adjacent to King City, a senior (55 and older) community with about 1600 residents. Since most of our members are of this age group, it made sense to us to make King City our primary focus for outreach.
With guidance from Pastor Dee Bulante, we began sponsoring events at the King City club house with the goals of serving the community and making our presence known. In December 2010 we held a Community Christmas Celebration. In the summer of 2011 we sponsored a seminar on overcoming grief. Then this last December, we held our second Community Christmas Celebration.
We paid to advertise the event to all 1400 homes in King City. We hired a professional three-piece band to play Christmas music, invited the local King City Music Club to sing carols, asked a local singer to lead in a sing-along, and invited a King City resident who previously performed with notables such as Danny Kaye and Red Skelton to sing a solo.
The one and a half hour program went smoothly. About 90 people attended. Pastor Dee Bulante served as emcee, introducing the performers and giving a short message focusing on the love of God expressed through the person of Jesus Christ—love not just for Christians, but for all people. He commented:
We share time with family and loved ones because God has shared time with us through Jesus…. We exchange gifts to one another because God has given us the ultimate gift of Jesus…. We sing songs of warmth and merriment because of the peace and joy that wells up in our souls, expressing thanks to the baby born who is our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
Several “amens” were heard from the audience as he spoke, and some appeared to be on the verge of tears as they were reminded of God’s love.
We feel the event was a smashing success. Some attendees asked where we meet for church, and a few took copies of Odyssey magazine. Many gave comments expressing their gratitude:
You outdid yourselves this year…. Everything looks so beautiful…. Thank you for the delicious food…. We had a wonderful time…. I came primarily for the Christmas music, but was pleasantly surprised with the food served and the whole program. I appreciated the message as well. It gave me a different perspective about Christmas…. I really am glad I came today for the whole program, the food and the people. Nice pastor, didn’t talk too long, but got the message out.
We have learned how a small congregation can reach out to the community. It takes prayer and hard work, but it is worth the effort. We plan to hold two King City outreach events in 2012 – possibly a seminar on aging gracefully and definitely another Community Christmas Celebration.