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Hawkins UMC to have ‘Praise in the Parking Lot’ Sunday

When the congregation of Hawkins United Methodist Church on Halls Ferry Road meets Sunday for its 10:30 a.m. worship service, they’re going to take it to the street.

The worship service is part of the church’s “Praise in the Parking Lot” program from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is aimed at bringing the church and its neighbors in the community together to get to know each other better. The church is located at 3736 Halls Ferry Road.

“We’re trying to become friends with our community; the neighborhood we’re in, and the neighbors around us,” said Shelley Plett, one of the organizers. “We aren’t necessarily trying to get them to come to our church; we just want them to know we are there in the community if they ever have a need we can meet, we just want them to know we’re there for that.”

Hawkins pastor, the Rev. Sally Bevill, said the idea for the program was the result of a staff conversation about how Jesus calls the church to be a neighbor in the community.

“We couldn’t be focused just on church members,” she said. “That’s not what this is about. It’s about being in relationships with one another. It’s how do we get outside of our building. It’s kind of like being a community block party.”

And while there will be praise and worship, she said, the goal is to encourage a feeling of community and people getting to know each other, becoming neighbors and building relationships.

“We believe that the world will be changed through one relationship at a time. Hopefully, we get to set the example of what it means to be a neighbor and community. It’s interesting, because when Christ gave the mandate to go and make disciples for the transformation of the world, he didn’t say ‘sit on your pew.’ He said ‘go.’

“And that meant, ‘Go and grow the kingdom and show my love and show people that they’re loved and important and cared about.’

“We’re just trying to make sure that our agenda and our intentions are in the right place, and also looking at the community and how we need to know each other and we do need to strengthen, for a lot of reasons, our community,” Bevill said.

Plett said the program includes lunch after the service and activities for adults and children.

“We will have jump houses, a stage will be set up for our praise team, we will have the Vicksburg Police Department’s Community Relations officers talking about neighborhood watch and crafts for children,” she said.

Cornhole will be set up for adults, and the First United Methodist Church of Clinton praise team will perform. The Vicksburg Fire Department will have a fire truck on display in the parking lot.

“It’s going to be cold, so we’re telling people bring a blanket and bring a coat,” Bevill said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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