I want to tell you about a girl, who grew up in this church. She learned a lot of awesome stuff from many of you and some of your parents and grandparents. She didn’t know it at the time but from you she learned that service is very important and because of those early seeds, it has been an integral part of her entire life. She learned that helping, giving, offering is important. That love and kindness and grace and patience matters most. From one of you she learned how to give a hug. From another she learned how to truly, deeply forgive.

But we know that church for many people is a synonym for judgement. This girl has even felt that way at times. She’s felt excluded. Unwelcome. Afraid of walking through those doors because of mistakes, because of feelings of not belonging.

So this girl wants to help make sure that here, in this amazing awesome beautiful place with a huge kitchen and big gym and expansive park, that Bethesda has come to a place in its evolution where those old and ugly words and feelings are continually replaced with words like welcoming, and phrases like “come just as you are”. She wants all of us to live as Jesus did for the people who DESERVED Him least but NEEDED Him most.

And the cool thing is, that girl is surrounded by many others who want the same thing and last Friday, she got to be a part of this really amazing moment where over 100 people who aren’t “church people”, but just neighbors to these church people, came in to this place and were welcomed and fed and loved. They came just as they were and ate together, watched a movie together, had some shave ice and popcorn.

We have three more nights like these planned and many more in the works. One a month. Starting October 21 with a Harvest Party for all families…many of whom have already RSVPed. I am asking all of you, each of you, to consider coming. Just to talk to someone. Or help with a game. Or take pictures and smile. For those of you who serve through food, there are recipes we need created for that night that will be in the entryway. Take one if you can do that part. Donating money is also welcome because obviously, this is new and our budget is thin.

But really, most of all, consider just coming and hanging out here for 15 minutes and being a part of something beautiful. Together, let’s match how many neighbors come to how many of us show up…so all of those soon to be friends can experience what truly makes Bethesda awesome — all of you.

I know many of you already do a lot with the food pantry and clothes closet and hospitality committee and a hundred other committees and projects that all make this church amazing. But this, this is more like giving one of those amazing hugs like I received every Sunday as a child. Those one on one connections are truly needed in this world. And Bethesda is here, smack dab in a neighborhood with thousands of families that need it most.

If you have ideas for future events, let us know. Us is me, Kay Kirkpatrick, Pastor Sarah, Stephanie Kinnaman and Pastor Steve.

Thanks for considering,
Deanna Rivera

View the full schedule here.