On a cold Maundy Thursday night this year, two churches in Woodstock created an innovative way to both celebrate the day and demonstrate a conscious commitment to reaching out to the community. The Way UMC and Hillside UMC collaborated for an outdoor experience that included devotions, music, and communion throughout the downtown area and on The Way campus.
Beginning at Latimer Hall in downtown Woodstock, participants were asked to scan a QR code on a sign at each station or read a printed devotional that reflected part of the final week before the crucifixion. Subjects included the entry into Jerusalem, Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet, and the Last Supper. Music at three of the 6 stations included an acapella vocal group, a worship team, and a handbell ensemble. At the final station on The Way campus, pastors from each church offered communion.
"The staff, lay leaders, and members of both churches who came out to serve and experience a 'beyond the walls' expression of faith were so excited," said Rev. Herzen Andone, pastor of Hillside UMC. "We look forward to developing future shared ministries with our partners at The Way!"
Whether it was congregation members who intentionally came to make the journey and read every line, or those who stopped by one or more stations just because they happened to be in town that night, the story of Jesus was told.
One participant who wasn’t connected to either church saw the announcement on Facebook that afternoon, grabbed a friend, and came because she hadn’t found a church that was holding services that night. Others expressed appreciation for the creativity that allowed them to worship outdoors during the pandemic.
Everyone, whether church staff, volunteers, or participants, agreed it was an ideal way to begin the weekend leading into Good Friday and Easter.
"It was a great experience and look forward to more opportunities like this in the downtown area and with Hillside," said Rev. Andy Rogers, pastor of The Way.