Loop Church in Chicago embraced the annual Dragon Boat Race at Ping Tom Park in Chinatown this year as an outreach opportunity. On July 19 the Christian Reformed congregation’s team, called “Jesus Rows,” competed with 25 other teams on the south branch of the Chicago River in front of the park.
The church team wore bright orange T-shirts with “jesusrows” printed on the front and the church website on the back. Church members gave out bookmarks creatively linking the event to the church website. Approximately 10,000 visitors attend the event each year.
Each dragon boat had 20 rowers plus a drummer and someone to grab the flag as the boat came to the finish line. Two boats raced in each heat. The church’s team won their first two races but lost their third to the boat that later took first place.
“Our primary goal was to have fun and do outreach at the same time,” said Rev. Timothy Douma. “Church members were challenged to invite unchurched friends to row with us. Second, many people were intrigued by our shirts, and it opened up lots of conversations about the ministry through Loop Church.”
The Home Missions Committee of Classis Northern Illinois gave the church a grant to help the team’s participation in the race.