Looking for a fun, safe, family-friendly place to hang out on Friday nights? Harrison United Methodist Church might be the ticket; at least that’s the hope of Associate Pastor Rhonda Hartweg.
The church will launch “Under the Arbor,” Friday, May 10 – a summer series initiative that will take place the second and fourth Fridays each month from now through August. The Friday night events, which will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will feature local musicians and other entertainers, with the May 10 event featuring the musical group “Trinity.”
“Kind of what we’re thinking is that we are really trying to promote multi-generational events. It’s a focus on unity. We are a large church with multiple services, but we are trying to have more things that are open to anyone to attend,” Hartweg said. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could provide this setting where people could come hang out awhile?’”
Summer tends to be a different season for the church, Hartweg said, with many members in and out of town on vacation and students on summer break. The church wanted to find another avenue to promote community while providing an inviting atmosphere for those looking for a church to call home.
It’s a mission at Harrison to create relationships beyond the church doors, Hartweg said. The church is known for its outreach and services to the community, like the annual fall festival and other ministries like the food pantry and backpack program. Hartweg, who has been at Harrison for around a year, said the summer series will be an additional way to spread the love of Christ to the community.
“We’ve done other events like this in different contexts,” she said. “The community being in Charlotte really offers more opportunity.” Hartweg previously served at a church in Wingate, where she also spearheaded outreach projects and community missions. “Wingate is a college town, but we did things like this there in areas like the park. When I came here, I was so excited because Harrison is so involved in the community. It’s a huge mission and fellowship thing.”
Hartweg said the church is still looking for musicians and other entertainers to perform through the later months of the summer. On May 24, “Under the Arbor” will feature singing and dancing Latin-style with Javier Perez and friends. She’s still waiting to hear back about entertainers for June and is still looking to schedule some for July and August. If the series is successful, Hartweg said the church might consider extending it into September.
“We have a lot of musicians that don’t necessarily play in the worship band. We have professional storytellers and even a clowning ministry,” Hartweg said. “I started out asking people in the church, but we also want more people from the community, as well.”
Entertainers interested in participating should contact Hartweg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The evenings also will include activities for kids, like sidewalk chalk and other outside games, Hartweg said, and will sometimes include games for adults. Participants are strongly encouraged to bring snacks and nonalcoholic beverages to make the evening more enjoyable, though Hartweg said the church will most likely provide lemonade and light snacks. People can even pick-up dinner for the
family and bring it to the event, she added.
“They can bring anything. We wanted to make it a time where people are coming home from work,” Hartweg said. “We’re just trying to make it easier for people to come on the campus and get to know people. It’s all about relationships – not where they find themselves. It doesn’t have to be a traditional church service.”
The summer series will take place under the arbor at the church, which has existed on the campus since the church was established. Harrison United Methodist Church is located at 15008 Lancaster Hwy.