Welcoming Strangers
by Dennis Miller, Senior Pastor
Fort McPherson, Canada.
Photo courtesy the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Hello Ginghamsburg Church Family!

I hope you are doing well today! I’m really excited about this coming Sunday as I share a message from Matthew 23 about authenticity and holiness. Please invite a friend to join you at 9 or 10:30am. I am looking forward to seeing you!

I will never forget rolling into Fort McPherson, known by locals as Teetł'it Zheh, located in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. This tiny remote hamlet sits on the east bank of the Peel River and is 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, approximately 4,000 miles from Dayton, Ohio. Bill Bartram and I had just spent the past 24 hours riding our motorcycles through the remote wilderness of the Boreal Forest. This community of First Nations people was the first sign of life. As we crossed the river on a small ferry children came out of their homes to greet us. They spoke a combination of Gwich'in and English. The Inuit woman behind the counter at the hamlet’s only store/gas station told me my English accent sounded very strange! I said my people are from the Appalachian hill-country of middle-America. She had never been to the United States but was familiar with the cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Hollywood. She had never heard of a Buckeye or even a place called “Ohio.” But even though we were foreigners from a distant land, covered in mud from riding the past 250 miles on an unpaved road, unshaved and possessing the scent of foul body odor from tent camping in the Yukon wilderness, the kind townspeople offered us warm hospitality and respite from our long journey before riding another 350 miles to the Arctic Ocean. These Indigenous Canadians fulfilled Leviticus 19:33-34, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Contrast this welcome with an experience I had on a Sunday morning a few years ago when I arrived unannounced to worship at a small rural church near Lancaster, Ohio. The pastor did not see me enter the sanctuary and the greeters and ushers were unprepared for visitors. I was finally greeted with the words, “Who are you and what are you doing here this morning?” I guess they hadn’t had any visitors in a very long time! I assume if surveyed the members would have said their church was friendly. But they were cold, internally focused, and only friendly to one another. Once they found out I was their United Methodist District Superintendent, they were embarrassed. They then welcomed me with open arms. However, if I wasn’t their denominational leader, but a lost soul seeking acceptance, direction, and fellowship, I would not have returned. Can you imagine a guest to Ginghamsburg Church hearing the words, “Who are you and what are you
doing here?”

This weekend as guests walk through our church doors will we be ready for them? First, we need to make sure we are present. Can you imagine special guests coming to your house and you are not at home? Second, studies have shown that visitors decide in the first 10 minutes whether they will return. That 10 minutes includes the way our guests are welcomed and how the worship service begins. Do we only greet our friends, or do we welcome the stranger? Don’t assume that simply the people in the red shirts at the door will do it. YOU are the Church, the body of Christ! More importantly, why don’t we take the initiative and invite a family member or friend to worship this coming Sunday? Church consultant Dr. Thom Rainer in The Unchurched Next Door says that "82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited, yet only 2% of Christians ever invite someone to worship with them!” So here is your assignment: Pray, be creative, get involved, make a difference, be an ambassador of Jesus Christ! God is counting
on you.

I am looking forward to witnessing how God will use us in turning strangers into friends - foreigners into family! Be assured I am cheering for you this week!   

Dennis Miller
Senior Pastor
By the Numbers...
  • Offering this week was $58,814 from 231 individual or family givers.  
  • Individuals who participated in worship at all locations:
  • In-person adults, students & kids: 662
  • Online (YouTube & ginghamsburg.church): 328

Online worship is also available on Facebook.
Fort McKinley In-Person Worship Time:
Sunday: 10:30am

Tipp City In-Person Worship Times:
Sunday: 9, 10:30am
Ginghamsburg Online Worship Times:
Sunday: 9, 10:30am
YouTube on demand after 9, 10:30am