By Ansley Brackin
Communication Specialist for The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church
Crossroads UMC’s pastor Rev. Zack and wife Rev. Leigh Martin have been flocked by their Oasis Youth Group! Ryan Young’s youth group from Conyers needed a way to raise money for their mission trip. Naturally, they found the answer in plastic flamingos.
For the past six weeks, congregants have been paying $25 to “flock” each other’s houses. Others paid for “flock insurance” to prevent their yards from being seized by the bright plastic birds.
“The church is having a lot of fun with,” says Rev. Leigh Martin.
The Martins are not sure who is responsible for their house’s flocking, but they have their suspicions. The pastor did retaliate by flocking the youth group and youth minister’s office.
The couple took the fundraiser as a unique opportunity to welcome their newest members, leaving a note with the lawn décor welcoming them to the church.
Youth Director, Ryan Young is excited by the attention their pranks have drawn from the surrounding community.
“Since our church is not located in a high-traffic area of Conyers, I also wanted to give our church a bit of name recognition in the surrounding areas,” he explains.
He was inspired by a fundraiser completed several years ago, before his arrival. In a similar fashion, youth repainted an aged piano and dumped it on member’s lawns. In order for the piano to be removed, the owner had to donate to the youth program.
Young decided to honor the pranking method, but switched the rules around.
“People tend to have a better sense of humor about pranks when you don't charge them for being pranked,” he says.
The flamingos were the perfect tool, because they are affordable and bright. Spread across front yards alongside “You’ve been flocked!” signs and signs with Crossroads UMC’s name and contact information, neighbors quickly jumped at the chance to participate. One victim of the flocking was even Rev. Dr. John Beyers, pastor of Conyers UMC.
“The response from the congregation has been wonderful,” says the youth director, “but what really surprised us was that a lot of non-members of CUMC, mostly neighbors of people who got flocked, wanted to get in on the action! We have had a lot of people who have never been to CUMC sending in donations supporting our youth ministry simply because they got a laugh out of seeing their friends' yards invaded by plastic pink flamingos.”
Young, who has been at Crossroads UMC since 2012, and his youth are now responsible for the church’s new pseudo name.
“I went out for lunch last week and forgot that I was wearing my staff name tag,” Young recalls. “The waitress saw it and asked, ‘Crossroads... isn't that the flamingo church?’ Why yes, yes it is!”
The youth will take their trip from June 23rd-27th. They will be repairing homes in Copperhill, Tennessee. Be sure to visit the “flamingo church” when you come through Conyers.