Churches eager to welcome guests


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

Centenary United Methodist Church has stood in downtown McComb for a long time. So long, in fact, that some church leaders worry it’s almost taken for granted.
That should change, however, beginning Sept. 5 when radio ads sponsored by the church running on two local stations.

The ads are part of the Igniting Ministry campaign’s “Back to School” segment and will be customized for Centenary. In addition, TV and online messages will be running during September – Open House Month in the denomination.

Meanwhile, 11 churches have been awarded $500 “Welcoming Seed Grants” from the Mississippi Conference Commission on Communications.

Susan Dowdy of Southwest Broadcasting got the ball rolling for Centenary.

“We were down (in Louisiana)  one day, and I heard an ad for The United Methodist Church,” she said. “It was tagged by a local United Methodist pastor. I inquired, and they said it had run through a matching grant situation. So I approached our church, and Karen (Koons, Centenary pastor) said I could pursue it. I got online and found the process to follow.

Dowdy applied for a grant from United Methodist Communications in Nashville. The grant was approved, and the “Journey” ad will run on WAKH-FM 106, a 100,000-watt station, and WAZA-FM 107.3, a 25,000-watt station. The spots will run on Wednesday through Saturday for two weeks, six times a day on each station.

Having an attractive church helps draw visitors and potential new members, says the Rev. Dr. Maurice Smith. That’s why Mount Nebo UMC of Pontotoc Parish in the Tupelo District applied for a conference seed grant.

The church’s plans call for sprucing up the church foyer, front entrance and sidewalks to make the church more attractive and inviting. Smith said the project shows that the members care about the church.

At Saucier UMC in the Seashore District, plans call for a “welcome back barbecue” for children involved in the church’s van ministry and their families. The church regularly sends out its vans to pick up school-age children for various activities at the church.

Poplar Head UMC, also located in Saucier, will use the grant to continue its “peanut butter” ministry which “spreads the word of God” in the community.

Other grant recipients (listed by district) include:

• Brookhaven – Little Zion UMC

• East Jackson – Union Grove UMC

• Greenwood – Walden Chapel UMC

• New Albany – Wheeler UMC

• Senatobia – Holly Springs Asbury UMC and Charleston First UMC

• Starkville – Flint Hill UMC

• West  Jackson – Central UMC

Another special welcoming event is planned at the Trinity Mission in Forest. The “Fiesta de la Puerta Abierta (“Open Door Festival”) is set for Sept. 22. Trinity Mission works primarily with Hispanic residents of the area.