Eclipsed by Love: Congregations Extend Hospitality to Totality-Seeking Travelers

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Loving and Serving

By Carl Stagner

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

For those keeping their eyes on the sky across much of the Western hemisphere on Monday, April 8, the truth of this passage of Scripture was demonstrated in an unusually magnificent manner. Whether fascinated by galactic phenomena or not, the societal impact was certainly of some significance. After all, schools canceled, business closed early, traffic patterns were disrupted, philosophical and theological conversations started, and millions of people did stare at the sky at the same time. In a world of pervasive darkness only eclipsed by the love of Jesus, several Church of God congregations seized the cultural moment to extend generous hospitality to totality-seeking travelers.

While some stores, hotels, and restaurants opted to cash in on the solar eclipse (think eclipse-themed dishes and deals!), Church of God congregations recognized an opportunity for ministry. While some offered mutually beneficial options, like discounted parking rates in exchange for helping youth groups get to IYC, others offered totally free parking spaces for sun-gazing. These churches weren’t content with simply opening their property, however. They were also eager to serve their guests who’d come from thousands of miles away.

Thursday Church solar eclipse outreach

South Memorial Drive Church of God in New Castle, Indiana, is a great example. “Join us for the solar eclipse!” they advertised ahead of the big day. Boasting a large lawn “with a great view,” the church prepared lunch for their guests and advertised restroom availability! One guest from Minnesota offered the following encouraging feedback following the experience: “Thanks for opening your church community to us. My family loved your hospitality!”

Decatur Church of God in northeastern Indiana also opened up their parking lot, as did Beulah Church of God in Eubank, Kentucky, and Payne Camp Meeting in northeastern Ohio. Thursday Church in Vincennes, Indiana, operated a booth in front of their storefront-style establishment, engaging visitors from near and far with a smile and the love of the Lord. The Thursday Church staff described April 8 as a “fabulous day!” They further thanked “all the wonderful volunteers and church leaders who helped with the strawberry shortcake booth, snack shop, T-shirt sales, parking, and cleanup. It was great meeting so many visitors from all cross the country, from Florida to California. God blessed us with a perfect viewing day!”

Solar-eclipse seeker Mary Davis, arriving from Oklahoma, offered the following reflections on the experience and thanked Thursday Church for their ministry. “We were fortunate enough to find a parking place in the church parking area the day of the eclipse,” she explained. “I am disabled and, as the day went on, we realized I needed something to sit on. Thursday Church loaned us folding chairs from the church. Thank you for helping strangers when in need…. God blessed us through Thursday Church.”

Did your church intentionally bless totality-seeking travelers on Monday, April 8? Share your story with us. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

Feature (top) photo: Watching the eclipse from the parking lot at South Memorial Drive Church of God in New Castle, Indiana.

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