The General Board of Global Ministries has awarded Lake Park United Methodist Church in Oakland a revitalization grant to support five new ministries at the church. The main purpose of the five new ministries is to build up the spiritual lives of those at the church and in the community; and to make new Disciples of Christ in the city of Oakland.
By the Rev. John Oda
Pastor, Lake Park UMC, Oakland
Lake Park United Methodist Church in Oakland was a fairly typical United Methodist Church with a membership that was aging and stagnant. The worship attendance had also remained flat for decades. But a new revitalization grant has begun to infuse Lake Park UMC with new life and new energy.
With the grant monies Lake Park established a Tuesday Night Family Fellowship Dinner geared toward young families as a mid-week break. The dinner also coincides with the church's LGBT Bible Study so most of the fifteen or so young adults attending the Bible Study stop by the dinner before heading into the bible study. Some of the members of the Bible Study come from as far away as San Jose.
A new congregation, Faith Community United Church of Christ, has begun to worship at Lake Park UMC. The revitalization grant will support strengthening the connection between the two churches by making joint mission projects possible and enabling collaborative trainings and retreats. Lake Park and Faith have also scheduled joint worships throughout the year.
This past summer Lake Park UMC held a free weeklong Music Arts Camp with thirteen low income children enrolled from various Oakland neighborhoods. The grant will ensure that the Music Camp will take place next summer hopefully with an even larger enrollment.
The grant also supports Lake Park UMC's "mentoring" of Bayside Cambodian UM Fellowship of Alameda. Bayside is a fairly new church. The grant will finance three different trainings for Bayside: United Methodist History and Polity, Worship: Communion and Baptism, and finally Church Finances.
The grant and the Holy Spirit have brought some new young families to Lake Park UMC – growing the worship attendance by almost 40%. The church is grateful for the GBGM grant and for the chance to revitalize itself.