“Warm, wonderful, caring.” Those are a few of the words participants used to describe a StorySharing event for Immanuel Episcopal Church in Bay Minette, AL. I was chosen by Immanuel to be our evangelism catalyst and decided to invite the neighbors in my cul-de-sac. I made Valentine-themed invitations to the special night and hand delivered them. The event was held at a popular steak and seafood restaurant the week of Valentine’s Day.
Nine neighbors braved the rainy evening to enjoy good food and to share their own personal stories of love. I explained the purpose of the dinner citing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Royal Wedding address and his efforts to promote love through his books and sermons. Most attendees had heard of the “Love Preacher.” The participants expressed a desire to know and “love their neighbors” and be a part of a better community.
Conversation starter cards were handed out at the beginning of the meal and afterwards, each person read their card and told their story. A Vietnam veteran read a card asking how love had seen him through a bad time and he recounted how he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he often puts his wife through some bad times. He explained that her love sees him through those bad times. At the end of his sharing, he kissed his wife, and everyone teared up. Others shared stories that brought laughter.
The event has caused a ripple effect in the neighborhood. Some attendees have hosted a cocktail party and invited other neighbors, a community yard sale is now being planned for the spring and a neighborhood fish fry during the summer. If I hosted an event like this again, I would do more follow-up after the invitations went out to answer any questions invitees had. Some people were leery of it being free! Overall, I think the event was a success, and gathering with our neighbors to share stories is a great way to be a catalyst of God’s love.
To learn more about StorySharing and becoming an evangelism catalyst for your community, visit www.diocgc.org/evangelism-task-force.