Today, United Methodist pastors from around Shreveport and Bossier City came together on Valentine’s Day in the name of “Christ’s Love”.
During the lunch hour, pastors and lay people from a number of Shreveport-Bossier United Methodist churches worked together to perform the imposition of ashes at two locations, Flying Heart Brewery and Pub in Bossier and Rhino Coffee in downtown Shreveport.
"It was great to see people coming from off the street, from different denominations and different backgrounds, all celebrating together," said Rev. Rachel McConnell Switzer of Summer Grove United Methodist Church in Shreveport.
"It was amazing to watch us become connectional outside the walls of the Methodist connectional system," said Rev. Kelly Berne of Love Chapel United Methodist Church. "It was awesome to have those inter-faith prayers with folks who were just walking up from the street."
Rev. Sonya Lars of Magnum United Methodist Church said she was initially looking forward to an opportunity to get away from her office. Upon arriving, she quickly saw a deeper reason for the gathering, "It was a great opportunity to interact with people and, perhaps just as important, to bring our faith out into the streets and to share with people outside of our walls."
Megan Stuermann, a lay person from Noel United Methodist Church reflected on the many churches creating holy spaces in spaces outside of their respective campuses, "I think it's great to actually have a presence and to be visible. I think a lot of people see our churches in town but they don't put the faces to the love and support in the community."
As much as the event, called "Christ’s Love: Prayers & Ashes", was designed to help impose ashes for Shreveport and Bossier residents, it was also specifically designed to draw United Methodist churches in the area together for one purpose.
"Today the focus wasn't on any single church but rather on how we as United Methodists can share Christ's Love together," says Rev. Klay Harrison of Lakeview United Methodist Church. "When we work together to reach people, we are at our best. Because we came together, we were able to pray with and reach people across a large geographical area. Because we are working together, we can now surround those people with prayer and connect them with local UM churches. I am excited that this day was just the start of our UM churches serving together and I am pumped to work together again as we seek to transform our city with Christ's Love."
The envisioning pastor for Christ’s Love: Prayers & Ashes, Rev. Matt Rawle, emphasized the purpose of the event, “We want to step out from our individual churches and unite under the one banner of the United Methodist Church. We’re a connectional denomination and being able to live into that by sharing Christ’s Love can reach so many people.”
According to United Methodist beliefs, Ash Wednesday focuses on our sinfulness before God and our human mortality, helping us to realize that both have triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a season when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, and spiritual discipline.
More information can be found on the United Methodist Church and Ash Wednesday at www.umc.org/what-we-believe