Churches represent an important part of our individual heritage. In addition to providing a spiritual foundation, our church family shares in some of the most important milestones in our lives. We celebrate births and marriages as well as mourn together over the death of our loved ones. Holidays and milestones are often celebrated at church. Many of the traditions we carry on to our children began in churches.
Like any group, church members scatter. However, congregations across the country are reuniting to celebrate their shared history. As in a family, church members represent all age groups, from octogenarians (and older) to newborns. Reunions draw congregations back together to recall their memories of the church, its leaders, its trials and celebrations.
Some reunions are organized around current events, such as the dedication of a new church building, or celebrating the retirement of a minister while welcoming his or her replacement. Congregations gather to commemorate church anniversaries or other significant historical markers. But more often, church reunions area a chance for current and former members to reconnect.
As with any type of reunion, church reunions need to start with a plan and a committee. Spread the work around and delegate tasks to as many active volunteers as you can enlist. The first job will be to re-assemble the flock. Churches keep records of congregants, especially baptism, wedding and funeral records. Depending the age, size and budget of your church, those records could vary from organized digital databases to dusty record boxes in a storage area. However, your best resource for reaching out to former congregants is through your current members. Most missing congregants still have some roots in the church through family or friends. Use your bulletin, newsletter or website to put out the word and begin to gather names, emails and addresses. While you are compiling your database of members, also get a list of local members who are willing to open their houses for out of town guests.
Once you have your guest list well underway, you will need to plan events for reunion. Activities need to be appropriate for the entire age span. Don’t forget to solicit help from representatives of the younger age groups. Many churches hold their reunions over a weekend, beginning with a Friday evening kick off and culminating with Sunday worship services. Sunday afternoon closes out the reunion with a picnic, potluck or banquet in an informal setting that allows families of all ages to reconnect. Saturday can be used for spiritual workshops, local tours or even entertainment events.
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