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When Andy Oliver was appointed senior pastor at Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2016, the 100-year-old church was in significant decline and thinking about closing. They’d been shrinking in attendance since the 1960s and were down to only about 40 regular members.
The remaining congregation wanted Oliver to cast a vision with them that would help revitalize the church. But he quickly saw that what they had been doing wasn’t working and they needed to start bringing in new people before they could create a vision to grow the church.
Point - Nothing - Oliver - Time - Action
“At that point, it felt like we had nothing to lose,” said Oliver. “So it was time for bold action.”
“We’re supposed to hear the cry of the needy. And once we hear them, we’ve got to be bold enough to do something about it.”
Action - Statement - People - Community - Allendale
This bold action started with crafting a welcome statement that would make sure people in the community would feel welcome at Allendale UMC. The church spent time training in anti-racism and inclusivity to make sure they understood other perspectives.
Then, Oliver began spending more than half of his time out of the church. He attended local meetings and events, building relationships with businesses and community leaders. From there, he would invite those leaders back to the church for one-on-one meetings.
Meetings - Church - Justice - Organizations - Space
It was from these meetings that the church realized that they felt called to focus on social justice. So they began partnering with other organizations in that space. And they began working towards becoming a hub of social justice in the Tampa area.
“Social justice is our evangelism,” said Oliver. “The community is my parish.”
Church - Atheists - Something
“If your church is attracting atheists, we know we’re doing something right.”
For years, Allendale UMC rented part of their building to local groups. It didn’t bring in much money and only reached a few...
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