Churches to break bread with neighborhood cookouts
In today’s busy society, it can be difficult to get to know your neighbors. The United Methodist Churches hope to change that with a series of monthly cookouts in various neighborhoods in Iola.
The first cookout takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the playground at the corner of Eisenhower Drive and Willow Drive. The event is free, and you do not have to be a church member to attend.
“It seems like everybody stays in their homes and does their own things, so our church decided to do this as a way to get out and get people talking to each other,” Lori Cooper, youth minister at Wesley United Methodist Church, said.
“I feel like that’s what Jesus calls us to do, go out and be in community with one another. Treat our neighbors well and take care of each other. It’s about getting the church outside these walls and getting into the neighborhoods.”
The idea sprang from the youth group’s summer mission trips. Every other year, the youth visit communities like Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Each time, the mission group hosts a community cookout.
“It’s very well attended. People look forward to it. The kids are excited and we see good results from it,” Cooper said.
Cooper wanted to see if the Iola community would embrace a similar concept. Though the idea sprang from youth missions, the entire church helped bring the concept to reality.
The youth group will be part of the action, as well. Today, youth will canvass the neighborhood and hand-deliver invitations to the event.
The church will provide hot dogs, chips, cookies, watermelon and drinks. They’ll offer activities and games like frisbee, cornhole and more.
Though the cookouts will target residents in specific neighborhoods, everyone is welcome to come until the food runs out, Cooper said.
Similar events will be scheduled on the third Wednesday during the summer months.
Next month’s event, on July 17, will be at the pocket park on the downtown square. On Aug. 21, the cookout will take place at a park near the Cedarbrook housing development.