Free Flags, Food and Fun: Rural Ministry Success Story

Date Posted: 4/13/2017

Creating a sense of community in a very rural area is not always easy, but Harleton UMC found a way to do that well in March.

Rev. Kate Turner and her husband Joe Turner, part-time Local Pastor and Certified Lay Minister know that people tend to settle into their individual churches in rural areas, and mingling is somewhat rare. But, once in awhile, a creative idea surfaces that brings people together for a common cause.

Harleton UMC’s Rev. Kate Turner explains, “Recently, we learned that a friend and retired Methodist minister, Rev. James Knight along with his wife, Marie, had begun a unique personal ministry. The Knights have given away more that 1,000 durable, outdoor quality 3’x5’ Christian flags.” Knowing that the Knights were visiting Harleton UMC on March 19, the church invited area churches, schools and others to church adding that we would give away free flags immediately after our worship service. In addition, for a donation, we gave away flag poles, hot dogs and drinks.”

According to Joe, the church was “swamped” with people. “We gave away more than 100 Christian flags plus about 75 hot dogs,” he adds. The donations poured in. They raised over $600 and donated half this money to a new Grief Share Program and the remainder was placed in the church operation fund. 
A hundred new Christian flags are now flying all over East Texas. Kate shares, “This was easily the most successful event our church has had in many years. Our congregation joined in to the hand out the flags, cook hot dogs and manage the traffic. They unanimously voted to make Free Flags, Food and Fun an annual event. The Lord was with us on that Sunday morning. He brought His Christians out to get a free flag, meet us and other new friends and enjoy Christian fellowship.”

Member Suzanne Bartuska says, “Everywhere in town that week, I heard nothing but good comments about our flag giveaway.  When I hear the disappointment with not getting one or not knowing about the event, I tell them come back next year for a great service - then stay for hot dogs and a flag!”