Local church in the U.S. uses unusual photo opportunity as a magnet for sharing, witnessing.
Published on: 08-02-2021
In mid-May 2021, Gridley Seventh-day Adventist Church members hosted three booths at Red Suspenders Day — the largest community-wide event in Gridley, California, United States. The annual event attracts thousands of visitors.
Located in a Butte County farming community in northern California, Gridley is a small city of about 6,700 people.
One booth featured a show-stopping cabbage, weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kg), grown by farmer Brad Johnson. Attracted by the massive vegetable and seeing a photo opportunity, hundreds of people visited the booth. Johnson and other church volunteers gave away hundreds of watermelon plants and seeds, Scripture-based handouts, and two cases of Pacific Press books.
“I thought gardening created a lot of interest, and I found many identified with it as something we have in common,” Johnson said. “I met business people and community leaders, farmers, gardeners, classmates from school, people from the gym, and families.”
Physicians Randy and Christine Sloop were at another booth, teaching natural preventative measures for avoiding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. “We had one lady visit us who said she had been raised an Adventist and hadn’t been to church in more than 20 years,” Christine said. “After talking with us, she said she was going to come and visit our church.”
Retired schoolteacher Barbara Gately ran a third booth for children. She offered nature “grab bags” filled with shells, polished rocks, seeds, and more. Each child also received a memory verse card and an Our Little Friend magazine. “This Red Suspenders project was very positive and a successful event for us,” she said. “We are still receiving raves as to how well our community received it.”
As a gift to those who came to the event, Lisa Ekdahl made hundreds of beaded bookmarks and added them to little gift bags that church members had spent weeks stuffing with Giving Light to Our World (GLOW) tracts. Throughout the day, members gave away about 6,000 tracts.
“We wanted to be intentional in our activities, to represent who we are — people with a health message, people of the Book, who are willing to share God with others,” Peggy Morentin, head of the church’s local evangelism efforts, said. “We prayed that God would prepare us to be His representatives and thanked Him for how He would bless.”