Pancakes, Popsicles, and Pizza: An Alabama Church’s Summer of Service

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Loving and Serving, Southeast

By Mark Butzow

When Megan Allen-Cloninger accepted the call to become pastor of Twelfth Avenue Church of God in late 2021, the congregation had been without a pastor for a while. On a good Sunday, she says, they drew about thirty people to a modern building meant for larger capacity. Since then, she says there have been trickles of growth but nothing too dramatic. She also came to realize there was not a lot of recognition (of the church). “People in the community need to know Twelfth Avenue exists, and we need to reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus.” So last year they created what they called their Summer of Service, and they repeated it this summer.

The kickoff event on June 3 was a pancake breakfast open and free to the community. Other than the members helping cook and serve, about one dozen church members ate and about five people from the community.

Popsicle giveaway in the park!

“We imagined it would be a chance to gather and fellowship with people who had never been in our building before.” Turnout was light, but Allen-Cloninger says that was a blessing. “In a big crowd, I wouldn’t have been able to have all those good conversations.”

The following Saturday, they packed some coolers with popsicles and ventured to Arab City Park, where the handed out the treats to youngsters. “We picked a date in the park and, come to find out, there was going to be a huge yard sale in the park.” She said more than fifteen church members helped give those popsicles to kids, many of whom were there with parents participating in the rummage sales.

On the next Saturday, June 17, church members delivered pizza and homemade desserts to more than twenty workers on duty at Diversicare Nursing Home in Arab. The service event was timed with the start of National Certified Nursing Assistants Week. “We also did goody bags for seventy-plus employees who weren’t there that day.”

God’s promises inspire Twelve Avenue Church of God to service!

The fourth Summer of Service event will be Vacation Bible School, held July 21–22.

The events were different in 2022—handing out change at laundromats, handing out bottles of water at a grocery store, delivering popsicles at a local pool, and serving lunch for local firefighters.

What events will Twelfth Avenue do for next year’s Summer of Service? Allen-Cloninger isn’t sure yet, but she says the church will be serving the folks of Arab. “This is going to be a normal occurrence for us.”

Mark Butzow operates Mark My Words Ink, a freelance writing and editing service, and is a former journalism instructor, broadcast journalist, newspaper reporter, and copy editor. He lives in Madison County, Indiana.

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Feature (top) photo: Pastor Megan (second from right) and church volunteers read to serve pizza to nursing home staff.

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