If you were walking by the corner of Hong Feng Road and Ming Yue Road on Sunday afternoon you could hardly fail to see the tents and tables, and hear the buzz of conversation. With the calls of greeting from friend to friend and the earnest exchange of contact details, it might not be easy to distinguish this event from the many around Shanghai this month, beckoning the newly arrived and promising a full year of activities.
Welcome Home Sunday has become somewhat a traditional part of our church calendar at Abundant Grace. It’s a highlight for many of us, but what makes it different from those other social fairs reaching out to the community?
While the passerby at 5pm saw a courtyard full of chatter and laughter, the passerby at 4pm would only have seen the tents and tables. From 3pm-4:30pm the courtyard was empty because our Welcome Home began not with snacks and giveaways but with glorious worship and the year’s opening message from our Interim Senior Pastor, Rick Cryder. First spiritual food, then food for the body.
The Creative Ministry planned worship to open with the fitting Future Marches In boosted by a magnificent choir, followed by the ever popular Glorious, The Lion And The Lamb and then Jesus, Your Love. Sunny Pratt, Abundant Grace’s Elder Chair introduced this year’s leadership team of elders and pastors. Pastor Rick’s message unpacked our key scripture for the year John 15:5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can nothing.’ He introduced the overview for our teaching schedule—learning to abide (be rooted in Christ) as the foundation to experience fruitfulness. Pastor Rick went on to share personal testimony of his arrival and transition to Shanghai has been, and the need for a local church to call home. The song Called Me Higher was sung as a piece to backdrop on-stage visual messages many of us feel at this time of year.
Following the gathering, outside, thirteen ministries showcased their year’s programmes and met with new and existing friends. The fair to connect one with another, so visible from the street after 4:30pm, truly came from the overflow of our prior gathering, teaching and worship. We pray, these relationships will grow week on week and draw us closer to one another in ministry and closer to Christ.
Special Events Leader
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