By Kristen Partin, First UMC Tupelo
Director of Older Children Ministries
"When First Methodist, All Saints' Episcopal and First Presbyterian churches talk about being ecumenical, they aren't just blowing hot air." These words by Riley Manning, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal religion writer, summed up the attitude of the three churches recently involved in their first ecumenical event, the Festival on the Field.
What began as a joint venture during the trunk-or-treat festival on Halloween in 2012, grew into a fellowship between the downtown Tupelo churches. On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, members from Tupelo's First United Methodist Church, All Saints' Episcopal and First Presbyterian gathered at Robins Field for their first joint fellowship gathering.
From the charcoal grilled hamburgers, to the live music, to the bounce castles for the children to the hot air balloon rides for anyone willing, the fun and excitement at the gathering attracted even members of the local downtown neighborhood and people driving by Robins Field. People greeted each other across the tables, laughter dominated the evening and everyone was welcomed, regardless of where they lived or attended church.
By the end of the evening, it was evident the fellowship gathering was a success and the consensus was to continue to build and foster the relationships between the churches and to gather together for another festival on a yearly basis. As quoted in the opinion column of theNortheast Mississippi Daily Journal, "In sum, participants had experienced a biblical practice without sanctimony or conflict."
"8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (1st Peter 4:8-10 NIV)