We’re continuing the summer series on the blog about “Stories from the road.” Stories of how you and our CBAC churches are joining God in our neighbourhoods. At CBACyf we are loving hearing the stories of how you are connecting in new ways with neighbours and neighbourhoods, particularly neighbours from the younger generations. Here is another story to inspire you…

A number of years ago, as Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Fredericton New Brunswick looked around their neighbourhood, it was obvious that a school was smack dab across the street from them. Yet, how much of a connection did they really have with each other?

The church recognized, and were thankful, for the connections they did have. Every Christmas the school used the church to host their Christmas concert. For many years some retired teachers in the Grace Memorial congregation hosted a drop-in on the first day of school for parents and children. These were great connections, but the congregation also knew most schools will not allow churches to advertise their church programs in a school. How could they build a connection with the school? How could they bless the school even more and be a great neighbour?

Grace Memorial knew they could do more, it is no accident a school is right in their neighbourhood.

They started to dream.

They decided they could throw the students and teachers an awesome last day of school party. A School’s Out Party!

Each year now the church has a BBQ for students, their parents & sibling, and teachers as soon as the final school bell rings in June.
They have used many different activities for the School’s Out party: water slides, carnival games, pony rides, go-carts, balloon sculpting, face painting, and of course food. Green Hill Lake Camp has helped them with supplies and games.

Through this party Grace Memorial has seen their connection with the school grow.

Two years ago it was a particularly difficult time for the school because a boy who attended the school was killed in an accident just a few days before the end of school. It was an extremely sad time for the whole community. The family of this young boy asked to used the church for the funeral, because it was close by, they’d been to the end of year party and they knew the church was a good place. This allowed the church to show some kindness to the family during such a difficult time. Also that year, there was some question as to whether the “School’s Out Party” should be cancelled. However, just two days before the end of school, the school administration asked the church to go ahead and do the party as the families needed a lift. It was great for the church to hear how much the administration appreciated the party.

Grace Memorial is continuing to ask God how they can join His work in this school, in their neighbourhood. They’ve started hosting giant Easter eggs hunts at Easter, and the school allows them to use the school playground for this event.
They are praying their friendship and trust with the school continues to grow and is a blessing both ways.

How can you join God’s work in your local schools?

I know some of our churches are finding creative ways to bless school and building partnerships with schools. Here some of the great things our churches are doing in schools: running breakfast programs, providing volunteer coaches, providing volunteer for reading programs, raising money for gym equipment, giving teachers an appreciation/thank you treat or meal, arranging or volunteering for field trips and having clean-up days for the school grounds.

  • What other ideas do you have?
  • How can you bless a local school?
  • How can you start a connection between the people of your church and a local school? (Not to advertise your church programs and get kids to your programs, but to bless the school and start building relationships.)
  • How can you build on the connections God has given you with neighbourhood schools?

Thank you for the inspiration Grace Memorial! And thanks for joining God in your neighbourhood! #1neighbourhood

-Renée (with lots of help from Marilyn McCormick at Grace Memorial Baptist Church)