A major world cycling championship is being held on the streets of Richmond, VA this week. The UCI Road World Championship is being held Sept 19-27 and the race circuit takes over a number of streets, including in front of a number of prominent churches in the center city. Where some might see annoyance, many of the churches have chosen to embrace the opportunity of a large live and television audience to try and get their message out according to a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, just across from Monroe Park, will have a musical performance each night, including organ, brass and percussion, said Kim Kremer, the church’s business administrator. The fourth annual International Food Festival was moved up a week so that it would coincide with the international crowd expected to visit the city.
“We could grumble about this, or we could be welcoming,” Kremer said about handling the expected crowds. “Whether a mob shows up or three, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to do our part.”
At Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, also near Monroe Park, the roof was painted last week with the church’s website so helicopters getting aerial shots of the races will get a glimpse. The church will add a banner each day with messages to a watching world.
The first will be a nod to a Bible verse: “Where two or more are gathered … it’s a bike race!” Also featured later in the week will be “God is love” along with “and also with y’all,” to poke fun at a common Episcopalian response, “and also with you.”
St James’ Episcopal Church will also have a banner visible from above and is planning to take th opportunity to extend some hospitality;
[St James’] will open the playground for children and will have tents for shade, portable restrooms, charging outlets and some snacks, said the rector, the Rev. Randy Hollerith.
As for Sunday services, the congregation of about 600 will meet at St. Catherine’s School gym to package an estimated 20,000 meals for the organization Stop Hunger Now and then do an evening service next Sunday after the traffic has died down, he said.
Do you of other ways that congregations have embraced major civic events that bring disruption and opportunity?