Fairwood's efforts at outreach inspriing: Church exrtends invite to college students

By Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Tonight, Fairwood United Methodist Church in Tyler will hold its first "Saturday Night Alive" event. It's a weekly program they're launching for college students and 20-somethings who need things to do on a Saturday night.

Every week, there will be free food, board games, video games and friendly people to get to know.

Funny thing is, Fairwood is a small church with about 200 members, and most of them are a generation or two removed from college students.

"We have a congregation that is very kind and caring, and wants to serve the community," said worship minister Michael Dickens.

The motive was simple. The congregation saw a need, and they decided they should try and meet it.

"There isn't a lot for them to do around here," said Jan Harp, chair of the missions and outreach committee. "This gives them a place to congregate that isn't going to cost them anything."

Organizers are planning to hang fliers on Tyler Junior College and University of Texas at Tyler campuses and see what happens.

It's one thing to reach out to someone who is just like you. It's another thing entirely to reach out to someone different. That's more difficult.

But college kids, like the rest of us, are looking for community.

"A lot of times, college students forget about religion," Dickens said, who is 24 and attending college himself. "Not because we don't care, just because it doesn't fit into our schedule."

So instead of forcing college students to fit into Fairwood's preferred practices, they are making an effort to do something that works for them.

That's what wins hearts.

That's being the change you wish to see.

That's treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated.

The event will be come-and-go from 6 to 10 p.m. Visit www.facebook.com/SaturdayNightAliveTyler for more information.








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