Members of New Spirit United Church of Christ in Savage didn’t need to pack their bags, travel for miles, and set up their tents to enjoy campfire songs and share stories on Wednesday, July 20. Instead, they did it all at their church.

According to Interim Pastor Rosemary Rocha, during the summer months there is often a decline in attendance. In an effort to keep the congregation engaged and encourage new people to stop by, she suggested trying a different approach, aptly called the “Sundays move to Wednesdays” experience.

“I wanted the services outside because our church is hidden behind Target and the gathering of people and the sound of music might encourage people in the area — or passing by — to stop and check us out,” she said. “We also wanted to enable and encourage community building by eating together and the informality of meeting outside in worship on our beautiful piece of property.”

The service on July 20 was held indoors due to the dangerously hot weather.

The Wednesday services began on July 13 and will continue through Aug. 3. During that time there is no worship on Sunday, instead they will have outdoor services, provide food for a freewill donation, and host a variety of musical performers, which include Flemming Fold, Miriam & Co. and Bridge 33.

Performers are chosen by a team of church members, some of the music ideas came from their personal contacts.

“I knew the Flemming Fold because they were members of my previous congregation,” Rocha said.

Rocha said that New Spirit Church is a progressive Christian church, and is part of the mainline denomination of the United Church of Christ. The congregation has about 70 members, with a mix of just about every generation. It has been at its current location at 14394 Quebec Ave. since 1998.

“Members literally built the church, clearing the land and remodeling the original farmhouse into what is now the church. The building is air conditioned and we have a lift, since the sanctuary is on the second floor.” she said. “We are an ‘Open and Affirming’ congregation, which is our denominational language for saying that we welcome and affirm people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and our pastor is happy to talk with all couples about weddings.”

The congregation is also active in community outreach programs such as Ruby’s Pantry, Feed My Starving Children, BrainPower in a BackPack, food and clothing drives, the Crop Walk and international projects.