Praise and Proclaim Ministries was granted the privilege to partner with Atonement Lutheran Church to launch an outreach initiative in Parkville, Maryland from September 8-10. The level of participation from the members was amazing and the weekend provided outreach momentum with the intent to be impactful and lasting in the months ahead.
Parkville, Maryland is located northeast of Baltimore and just off Interstate 695 which is known as “the Baltimore beltway.” On a weekend morning, a person can drive to downtown Baltimore in about 20-25 minutes. During rush hour, you can easily add 45 minutes to an hour.
Atonement Lutheran Church was established in 1966. It is located off a busy road with a middle school only a block to the north and an elementary school a half mile south. There are a good mix of older homes and newer homes along with townhomes that are within a two-mile radius from the church. Many of the newer homes are modest brick buildings that are well-kept and have nice yards. The church property includes a sanctuary, a parsonage, and an all-purpose building that was built around ten years ago.
Rev. Newton Trimmer is the pastor at Atonement Lutheran with a current membership of 91 souls and an average worship attendance in the mid-forties.
After months of careful planning, the Lord blessed the outreach initiative with tremendous support and participation from the members.
It was impressive to see the multi-purpose facility filled with faithful members from Atonement Lutheran Church along with guests from three other WELS congregations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. Guests travelled anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours to come for the evangelism training on Friday evening.
A major component of the training is the opportunity to put training into action. Praise and Proclaim provides a well-organized opportunity to go out into the surrounding neighborhood to introduce their church, share a brief gospel message, and conclude with an invitation. In conjunction with this outreach initiative, the members at Atonement Lutheran chose to host a large Neighborhood Carnival on Saturday, Sept. 23rd.
We also attempted another opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
The Parkville Fair was held the same weekend as the outreach initiative. Atonement Lutheran purchased a booth at the fair with the intent to apply the same methodology and approach to proclaim the gospel and invite people to attend their Neighborhood Carnival. Two children-sized mountain bikes were brought to the fair and people were encouraged to supply their names and address in order to win one of the bikes at the carnival drawing.
On Saturday morning, twelve members from Atonement Lutheran stepped out in faith and went out door-to-door to share their faith with others. The Lord blessed us with open doors as members planted the seeds of the gospel forty-one times in less than two hours. To the astonishment of many members, almost every person we met at the door was quite familiar with Atonement Lutheran Church. They knew exactly where the church was located. Some even mentioned the freshly-painted sign out in front of the church. Two separate members from a nearby catholic church told a team, “I have always wanted to reach out to you.” They regularly look to Atonement Lutheran Church for advertising and program ideas. The fact that the surrounding neighborhood was already familiar with the church was a heartening and encouraging discovery.
Churches located in neighborhoods sometimes don’t realize how much people observe the activity (or lack of) that goes on at the church. They notice well-kept lawns, the number of cars parked in the driveway, and changes to signs. Later that weekend, members hung up a beautiful banner on the outside of the multi-purpose facility that is next to the road. Since members discovered that many people drive by the church almost every day, they are confident that many of the neighbors will be encouraged to come.
With every outreach initiative, the Lord provides opportunities to meet families who are looking for a church. Some families may be in the middle of a crisis. Atonement Lutheran was blessed with wonderful follow-up opportunities with families only blocks away from the church.
One of the neighbors we met was an Asian woman who quickly went to her stack of mail by the phone and pulled out our postcard that she had been saving. Another woman shared with us that she and her husband read the postcard out loud at the dinner table and said, “This is us!”
What a joyous day it was! We ask the Lord to bless the outreach momentum at Atonement Lutheran Church. We celebrate the high level of participation from the members. They are eager and ready to continue to engage the surrounding neighborhood and plant seeds of the gospel. They trust that the Lord of the harvest will use the seeds planted and send people to Atonement to learn more about Jesus and become part of the church family.