Trampolines and teachings helps expand congregation for one local church -- Gazette.Net


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Some congregations meet in historic churches, others in modern community centers, but one church is reaching out to new members in Clarksburg bouncing on a trampoline or eating brunch in a restaurant.

Pastor David Deans is associate pastor at the Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church, which has been serving the Olney area since 1801. He was recently named to start a new satellite program in Clarksburg with the goal of helping a younger, more diverse and growing group of people to know God through Jesus and to share a message of hope, healing and love.

“We're trying to meet people where they are and find out about their needs,” Deans said. “We want to be a church for people who usually don't go to church or never go.”

And he's meeting with them in some nontraditional places.

In January, Deans started a weekly series of free parenting and marital counseling classes for adults, while their children played on trampolines or participated in crafts and other activities at the BounceU recreational center on Gateway Drive, which are also free for the group.

“The kids loved it, they'd drag their parents back in who were also doing things,” Deans said.

The classes and activities attended by 20 to 25 people ended Saturday but Deans hopes to host a new series this spring.

Parenting [groups] seem to be the biggest draw,” said Deans.

In the meantime, Deans said will continue to hold services on the first Sunday of the month in the community room above Bennigan's Restaurant on Frederick Road (MD 355) including a special Easter service on April 20.

Also a social event, members often stay on to have brunch together downstairs in the restaurant.

“People have started to invite their friends, and we've gone from 30 to about 50 people in worship,” he said.

Deans and the group also plan to participate in and support some Clarksburg events as a way to meet people and build relationships.

“We're still in the introduction [period],” said Deans about the outreach effort, which he hopes will also help develop a sense of community in Clarksburg. Coming up is the 7th annual Clarksburg 5k Run, 5k Walk, and Kids Fun Run on Saturday, April 12, hosted by Cedarbrook Community Church in Clarksburg.

Anyone who plans to enter the event and also wants some company is invited to join their group, Deans said.

“Don't run alone – come join us,” he said.

Also planned is an Easter egg hunt across Frederick Road from Bennigan's on April 13.

“Church can be real, relational and fun,” said Deans. “We want to deal with real issues, like parenting and marriage, and connect with Biblical principles that matter to people where they are.”

For more information, visit OakdaleClarksburg.org or.facebook.com/OakdaleClarksburg.



vterhune@gazette.net