Fellowship and food: Church holds a service without walls to reach community

Photos by Timothy Ramsey0 Diggs Memorial provided a barbecue lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs following Sunday's church without walls service.

Fellowship and food: Church holds a service without walls to reach community
June 15
04:00 2017

Many churches preach community and reaching out to the people.  In an effort to practice what it preaches, Diggs Memorial United Holy Church held a “church without walls” service on June 11.  The service was held outside in the church parking lot. A barbecue lunch followed the service.

The Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams, Diggs Memorial senior pastor,  said the service exceed his expectations because this idea is somewhat non-traditional.  He said the idea came about when he was in seminary school because while there, he was taught as a seminarian you are only as relevant as your footprint in the community.

“What we have been trying to do here is reach people who need services, whether it be emotional, social or spiritual,” he said.  “I felt like today was an opportunity for us to make a statement to push this church to expand their theology beyond the norm and accept the fact that not everyone is going to come inside your four walls.”

Williams says that some people may be intimidated to come inside of an unfamiliar church, but having the service outside allows people to hear the service and feel invited to join.  He said the service says to the community that the church is still relevant.  He feels that the service also shows that church is not as “boxed into tradition” as people may think.

“Part of the challenge of the church is that we want to clean people up without catching them first,” Williams continued.  “The people here are not worried about tradition or regulations; they just came as they are.” 

The congregation and visitors were asked to come in casual dress for the service.  Church visitor Donna M. Jones says she was invited by Williams to the service.  She said the service was a blessing for her.

“I think a service like this says that God has no respect of persons,” she said.  “The Bible says come as you are and don’t let anything prevent you from going anywhere.  God knows who we all are and there is grace at the altar.”

Visitor Donna Taylor added, “Today’s service was excellent and uplifting.  In my line of work we deal with discrimination, so you can never judge a book by its cover.”

Williams said he was inspired to write his sermon of the day by dealing with a dead man walking.  He said some people walk around with an outward appearance that seems to be good but inside they may not have any self worth.

“One of the basic fundamentals in success not only in Christianity but in life is believing in yourself,” Williams said.  “I am convinced there are a lot of people doing great things but they don’t see themselves as valuable.  I am hopeful someone leaves here today empowered to believe in themselves and not let anyone define who they are.  There are haters out here and sometimes people see the greatness in you before you do and try to set traps in your life.  The sooner you know the wealth of who you are, the better.”

Williams said he wanted to have a meal after the service because in the Bible after Jesus performed miracles, there was always a social element to follow. 

“You can’t meet people’s spiritual needs and then leave them hungry inside” he said.  “I pastor in a community that is very much challenged with inequalities and the reality is this is probably the best meal some will have all day.  So I said to myself, I can’t feed them spiritually and not put food in their stomachs as well.  It is something to be said about fellowship and food.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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