Carnivals Bring Neighbors Together

Lots of churches hold carnivals to invite the community for fun and fellowship. But Mountainview Christian Reformed Church in Grimsby, Ont., encourages its members to bring mini-carnivals to their own front lawns with cotton candy and inflatables, welcoming those who live right next door.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for the members that are hosting the mini-carnival to get to know their neighbors,” said Maria Oliveira, chair of the church’s outreach committee. The committee budgets for a few such events each year. “It gives a connecting point so that in the future they can have more conversations,” she said.

This neighborhood approach came out of a more mainstream event.

“The [church parking lot] carnival is in its fourth year. It [began as a way] to bless Mountainview’s neighbors during our 50th year celebrations, which occurred in 2012,” said Jason Vander Wier, Mountainview CRC member and carnival organizer. “The ‘Meet Your Neighbor’ events, or mini-carnivals, started a year later when we met Andrew Randall of 2CBeyond Ministries, whose vision is to equip the local church to be the light of Christ in their neighborhood through various relationship-building opportunities.” 2CBeyond supplies carnival games, prizes, inflatables, and all the accompanying paraphernalia; the church provides the volunteers, and the hosts invite their neighbors.

This June, Samantha and Jeff Bondy volunteered to host a Sunday afternoon mini-carnival at the house they moved into in November 2015. “We were really surprised and delighted with the number of people that showed up, and not just from our cul-de-sac,” Samantha said. “There were old and young . . . a constant stream of people coming in and enjoying the games, bouncy castle, prizes, and cotton candy. Our boys have also been able to blossom a lot of friendships with the neighborhood kids, and we are so happy to see them socializing in a real way.”  
This is the outcome the church expected after having sponsored four or five mini-carnivals thus far.

“The large Mountainview carnival is a great way to impact the neighborhood, but the small ‘Meet Your Neighbor Events’ are where lives get touched and relationships start or are solidified,” Vander Wier said.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is a news editor at The Banner.

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