On April 2, 2011 fifteen members from Christ UMC in Bowling Green traveled to Queendale Center at the Red Bird Missionary Conference. The purpose of the trip was to share in worship on Sunday with the members of Lower Beech Fork UMC, our partner church. Upon arrival at Queendale we were met by Craig Dial. Craig gave the group a mini-dulcimer concert, which the group enjoyed since six of the group are members of Christ UMC dulcimer ministry. Following a time of witness by Craig, he gave the group a tour of the craft shop where we were able to purchase locally make craft items. Craig then showed us to our lodging for the night. While the strummers practiced for Sunday’s service, the rest of the group visited the Opportunity Store and toured the Red Bird campus. Craig’s niece joined the strummer group practice which enabled her to work on part of her doctorial thesis at the University of Illinois. Following the practice the group shared a potluck meal.
On Sunday morning we traveled from Queendale to Lower Beech UMC, a 25 minute trip over winding roads where the scenery was breathtaking. A 20-foot-wide gurgling stream ran along behind the church. We were the first to arrive and the members soon followed. While the strummers set up in the sanctuary upstairs, the 17 members of Lower Beech Fork set up a breakfast in the fellowship hall downstairs. We were treated to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, fruit and pastries. We enjoyed an hour of food and fellowship. One of the high school girls attends the Red Bird Missionary School, and another young man plans to study chemistry at Morehead State University next fall. Another gentleman was there with his 93-year-old mother, and he had traveled from Knoxville, Tennessee to worship with us.
Pastor Steve Springer and his wife, Dianne, have been in mission at Red Bird since October 1992. Pastor Springer opened our worship with prayer and lighting of the Spirit Candle. The dulcimer group shared six selections with the congregation. They were very receptive and enjoyed the harmonica playing and special solo of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” We had several sing-along hymns, and God’s spirit was certainly felt by all of us. Pastor Michael Holian shared the sermon, and at the close of the service Pam Grout, Chairperson of Missions, presented Pastor Steve a check from our church which we raised last summer at our annual ice cream social.
When it was time to leave, one of the ladies gave us a bag of blueberry muffins for the road. She said she hoped we would return because she would never be able to come as far as Bowling Green. We invited her to come to our Ice Cream Social. She declined due to distance, but it had given her the idea for their church to have an ice cream social with games for the local children. This is a mission-minded church; in fact last summer they took a mission trip to inner city Louisville.
Before leaving our group had a circle prayer with our partner church, and we gave thanks for the new friends we had made. Everyone in our group had a great experience, and we are eagerly awaiting a return trip. We found the people to be welcoming and loving. They love their God, their families, church and community. We feel we have taken the first step in establishing a continuing partnership with our brothers and sisters in the Red Bird Conference.