Platform: Catching the Bus
By Steve Germoso
Grove Reformed Church is a small, urban church with a bus stop literally right out front. Two bus lines go by, one to Jersey City, the other to Manhattan. The same bus stop is also used by the local high school. In the middle of last year we were surprised when a bus shelter was put up, blocking the church sign.
I began sitting at the bus stop bench working on sermons, praying, just observing the neighbors that God has called us to love. Occasionally I would have conversations with people, rarely identifying myself as the pastor of the church behind me. I found out that although the church has been on that corner for 170 years, many of our neighbors do not know it exists.
I wondered, How could our small church start loving its neighbors in practical ways? While "adopting" a school seemed beyond our capacity, we could focus on being a blessing to those at the bus stop.
We started in small ways: writing an encouraging message in chalk, cleaning the shelter. I also started using the bus stop as a meeting place. Our newest deacon, Inez Prosper, had the idea to clean out our church closets to give to those in need. We held a "free market" by the bus stop and gave away used clothing, household items, coffee, cake, and fruit. People were surprised we were giving everything away for free. Some returned with household items for us to give away.
Once when we were cleaning the bus shelter we met a homeless woman who was working in the day and sleeping in the streets the night. We tried to connect her with a shelter and had a time of prayer.
We ask the congregation for ideas on how to show God's love to neighbors at the bus stop and plan to continue to serve our neighborhood this way. In cold weather we started to serve coffee to those at the bus stop. An elementary school bus stop borders another side of the church property, and we are planning to be a blessing there too.
Steven Germoso is pastor of Grove Reformed Church in North Bergen, New Jersey. "Platform" gives RCA members a chance to share their opinions.