An Unconventional Approach at Fort Street Memorial UMC
From Romans 12
General Board of Discipleship
Fort Street Memorial United Methodist Church is a medium sized church in the heart of downtown Atlanta. The surrounding community includes many who are homeless, living in low-cost housing, or living in energy-inefficient historic homes with high maintenance costs. The needs of the community are great, and Fort Street Memorial UMC serves the area through a wide variety of ministries, both on Sunday and throughout the week. They are in touch with the issues, culture, and language of their community.
Mother¹s Day has traditionally been a high attendance Sunday with many families attending worship with their mothers. As the leaders in the church planned and prepared for Father¹s Day worship, they began to strategize how they could use the holiday as a way to encourage men, particularly fathers, to worship with their families and to enter more fully into the life of the congregation. They came up with a unique and potentially controversial way to get the attention of the neighborhood.
During the month of June, posted on the church marquee, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Atlanta, was a statement proclaiming that it was "Bring Your Baby¹s Daddy to Church Month!" This was followed by the time of the worship service. This created quite a stir in the community including people walking and driving by the sign, people taking pictures, and discussion among members and others in the annual conference. If you search the phrase, you can still find pictures of the sign on the internet.
The unconventional approach worked, and on Father¹s Day the church was full of fathers who came to be with their children, spouses, and extended family members to celebrate and worship together as family. The church¹s efforts to involve more men did not end with one Sunday of worship. Some of the men have become regularworshippers, and the church is still looking for new ways to continue to encourage men to become involved in the life of the church.