Picnics in the Pavilion have been a big part of summer at Central for several years. The beautiful thing about the picnics is their diversity. People from different services, ages, and walks of life connect and find common interests! Some people connect by sitting and talking, while others play a game of cornhole. In a world where activities tend to be segregated by different ages or interests, the picnics break down walls and let people of different generations connect over a meal in an authentic way.
The picnics grew from a group of families gathering together after church with young kids who were hungry. Originally, the families brought picnic lunches and ate together outside. We wanted to invite others to join in, so we decided to grill hot dogs as a way to welcome people who may not have planned food ahead.
I would love to have some sort of spiritual reason to keep the picnics going, but the first thing that comes to mind is that our kids would probably rebel if we didn’t! In the eyes of the kids, the picnics are a time to eat together, play together, and connect to friends old and new.
Each week, we see smiles and laughter, connections being made, and people having fun. But there are people coming with tears and sadness and the picnics provide a safe place to share that with others. It’s a “come as you are” event.
We’ve also seen people who are visiting Central for the first time be welcomed and get to know others, and those who have attended for generations come and get to know future generations who are growing up at Central.
One group of people with a common interest in music sat around a picnic table last year and hashed out the idea that turned into the children’s choir.
Ministry partners who are visiting Central have joined in the fun at the picnics and connected to people in a way they may not otherwise be able to do.
In short, the picnics have been an opportunity to “make space” and see God working … and as He tends to do when we make space for Him, He’s shown up in ways we couldn’t have imagined!
You don’t have to sign up to come – you can just show up! That said, signing up does make things easier for the planning team. You can sign up at: centralpc.org/picnics. In addition to letting us know you’re coming, you can sign up to bring a side or dessert or help with setup, cleanup or grilling. But even if unable to sign up ahead, you are always welcome!