By Rev. Emile Ennis
Kings Memorial UMC is one of Atlanta’s oldest churches and is located in the heart of the Edgewood Community. Church membership has declined in recent years as older members passed away and others moved on to another community.
Recently the Kings Memorial congregation and I decided to take a new approach and reach out to this transitioning community in a number of ways. The Evangelism Team went door to door and invited folks to both church school and Sunday morning worship services. We attached flyers to resident mailboxes, and notices of church events were posted on the billboard in front of the church.
Considering all of the work and energy that has been put into the church outreach program, it is difficult to believe that only one or two people responded. We found that what worked well in the past no longer works in today’s changing communities. Relocation and gentrification have created a diverse new community that will require much strategic planning if our church is to grow.
In spite of all that has occurred in the past, there is a fresh wind blowing at Kings Memorial today. King’s Memorial has once again raised it sails and is moving forward in a positive new direction. Our entire congregation is excited and filled with hope and anticipation. We give God the glory and praise and we are so grateful for the leadership of Sharon Yancey, founder and director of the Matthew’s Initiative, Inc., a faith based organization for children led by Sharon and her daughter, Jordan Black.
Prior to starting a new outreach and evangelism plan with the Matthew Initiative, a prayer group was initiated to insure the success of this new program. Next a wonderful group of dedicated laypersons, chaired by church member Phylissis Ransom, has formed the ‘Kings Kids’ coordinating committee to facilitate program activities.
Kings Memorial is blessed to have The Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta as its partner church in this endeavor. Selected pastors and youth from this wonderful church along with the youth of our congregation are providing support as King’s Memorial opens its doors to the Edgewood community.
A few weeks ago, we hosted our first heart-warming event.
Under the guidance of Yancey, we presented a Hip-Hop-Party for community children between the ages of 4 and 12.
“Them Hebrew Boyz,” a Christian Rap group from Decatur, supplied the music. The evening starting out slowly. As we moved tables from the church to a nearby parking lot, we couldn't help but wonder if the community would really respond. Church members manned the registration tables as the youth of the Korean Church prepared to teach arts and crafts. At 3 p.m., we were standing around, hoping and praying for parents and children to show.
The time for the party to begin came and went as we prayed together for the community to come and share in all that we were
Imagine our joy as shortly after 3 p.m. the parking lot began to fill with eager children and parents. The youth from the Korean Church performed two inspirational dances and Them Hebrew Boyz were just outstanding. The highlight of the evening was when the spirit of God came heavily onto the gathering. Several young people were moved to tears and we saw the glory of God. No one wanted to leave. As the evening came to a close I led the group in prayer.
Indeed there is a new wind blowing today at King’s Memorial as we look forward to the next event. Not only have our community residents been blessed in a mighty way, but I believe members of The Korean United Methodist Church and King’s Memorial United Methodist Church were also blessed in a mighty way as well. We have all seen the presence of God at work once more.