Harris Hill continues to live out the mission of the UMC
Editor’s Note: In January 2022, Upper New York (UNY) Area Resident Bishop reminded the UNY Conference of the importance of local churches in living out the mission of the United Methodist Church. Click here to read his article. Throughout the year, we will focus on themes that depict ways in which churches in UNY do this. Harris Hill UMC is one example of a church that that is living out the mission well with a strong Culture of Call.
One way that local churches in the Upper New York Conference are fulfilling the mission of the United Methodist Church is by finding ways to welcome people in the community who may not be interested in the traditional church experience. These churches think outside of the box and offer appealing, nontraditional opportunities to learn more about God.
Harris Hill UMC in the Niagara Frontier District is one of those churches.
She did this by developing relationships with members of the community who attended AA meetings held at the church. She created a casual Tuesday night worship experience and invited these individuals, who invited their friends. Soon, some of these guests began a Bible study on Thursday mornings.
When speaking of how the service is working out, Katie said, “The service is going great. We still have at least 20 people attending. This is a group of individuals who are not part of our Sunday morning group. The Tuesday night Path Gathering is their church; it’s a non-denominational approach for them to grow in their faith. They have even decided to start collecting offerings for the Mission of the Month that I share with my Sunday morning members.”
The way that a Thursday morning bible study grew from non-members of Harris Hill is also motivating.
Katie said, “It happened accidentally. I was watching these two women from Thursday morning AA go into church library and read the Bible together and then one of the women got COVID. I volunteered to read the bible with the other woman, and she said, ‘Would you really do that?’ I responded, ‘Of course I will!’
Then the next week, a couple of others joined us. A couple weeks later, I received a knock on my office door with a few women who asked if they could join the bible study. And those coming invited more people. One time, a gentleman passing by me in the hall asked if it was open to guys and I said that it was—he started coming and more men started coming. Now we have 8-12 folks every Thursday morning and only one of them is a member of the church.”
By offering ways for community members to learn about God beyond Sunday mornings, Harris Hill has touched the hearts of many.
Katie said, “God is so good. For me the coolest thing is that the Holy Spirit is working for those who are open and willing to listen to the Spirits call on their hearts.”