Building Bridges

By Jonothan Nettles

“Building Bridges” was a phrase Brad Davis of Seventh Street UMC in Parkersburg, WV (Little Kanawha District) used often as we talked about his weekly visit to the Seventh Street Sheetz in Parkersburg, just a few blocks away from his church.

He says the idea came from Cindy Briggs-Biondi and Chris Scott, colleagues reaching out with similar ministries. Brad shows up on Wednesday from 11 am to 1 pm with no agenda. He shares on social media and through his Seventh Street congregation that he is available for lunch, conversation, prayer, or just hanging out.

Since Brad started this outreach in the fall it has proved a valuable opportunity to interact with many from his church and the larger community. Some from the church feel more comfortable sharing in this informal setting. Individuals who have been touched by various church outreach ministries often show up, as well as others from the community who may never find themselves within the church walls. This informal time at Sheetz is an intentional way of building relationships with these neighbors and being present in the larger community.

There is always a danger of becoming isolated within the four walls of the church and disconnected from the community we are called to serve. The time at Sheetz is just one attempt to bridge that gap between church and community. Each week is different, but just showing up creates a space for God to work. Brad shared about one individual who came with many questions about the faith. Two hours of talking at the table was an opportunity for God to reveal God’s self and to draw this man closer. Brad shared that this is what it is all about – building bridges and relationships.

Brad is in his second year as pastor of Seventh Street UMC. This is his second appointment, and he previously served Kermit United Methodist for six years. He is a second year Master of Divinity student at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Brad said that he looks forward to spending more time out in the community after graduation.

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