First Ferguson utilizes parking lot to reach out to city parade attendees

FERGUSON – Marching bands, beauty queens and fantastic floats for wide-eyed children are not just on the football field. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, every year they are found on the north parking lot of First Baptist Church of Ferguson. The church serves as the staging area for Northern Lights, the winter parade for the city of Ferguson.

“The ministry during the parade is a touch point,” Ron Beckner, associate pastor, said. “We are touching the lives of people here. We are affirming them and showing that we care about the community totally and as individuals.”

The ministry comes in when members donate cookies and serve them along with coffee, hot chocolate and lemonade to the parade participants and those coming to watch.

“We improve it every year,” Beckner said. “Several years ago, we set the tents up in the back of the building, but only the parade participants realized they were back there. So, we now open the building with lights and tables in front of the windows and the patrons coming to view the parade can see that we are open. This year, we added crafts for the children to make.”

Beckner also sees the ministry strengthening the members of First Baptist Church Ferguson. “This ministry provides an opportunity to express biblical servanthood. We have members who donate the cookies,” he said, “some come to set up and others who are hands-on, serving by carrying trays of cookies out to the people getting ready for the parade on the parking lot.”

Beckner sees the consistent ministry despite the weather conditions. “This year it was nice,” he said, “but, I remember one year it was cold and rainy. The weather didn’t stop our folks; they covered the cookie platters with plastic and went out in the drizzle to serve.”

“We want to be a service center for the community,” Beckner said. “We want the people to know that we are a warm, welcoming place and we want the city to know we are partners in cooperation.”