The Belfast United Methodist Church has been recognized by United Methodist Communications as an official “Welcoming Congregation” for the third consecutive year.

“Welcoming Congregations” are a select group of United Methodist congregations nationwide that meets criteria including embracing newcomers and providing opportunities in discipleship.

For the past eight years, “open hearts, open minds, open doors” has been the theme of the denomination supported with a series of national cable TV advertising. The aim of the effort was to invite people to enter into connection with the Christian community as they seek meaning and purpose in their lives. The new campaign, “Rethink Church”, seeks to capitalize on the previous campaign, targeting 18-34 year olds and inviting churches to think of the motto as a verb, not just an adjective, as in: “Together we can….Open hearts, open minds and open doors.”

“We are pleased that our congregation is a part of this welcoming effort by our denomination and its members. Our welcoming committee along with our entire family of faith work together to make those who come through our doors feel welcome by extending a warm smile and sincere greeting” says Welcoming committee chair, Barbara Plummer.

The church and its congregation have been an integral part of this community for many years. The missions and ministries for school children of the area have supplied those in need with hats, mittens and snacks for the past several years; the Candy Cane Caper program has invited children to participate in the joy of giving gifts to their families at Christmas, and the latest ministry, the “Backpack Ministry”, provides school nurses with backpacks filled with necessary items for children in need. The local mission team helps individuals and families with small repairs to homes and projects that they otherwise could not accomplish, and the church building is used by many nonprofit organizations and community groups throughout the year. The Downeast mission team travels to Jacksonville each year for a week to help folks in that area with home repairs and building projects. Each year, the Angel Tree at Christmas provides Christmas gifts for several families, whose children may otherwise not have gifts to open Christmas Day. Three years ago the church began providing for a Community Christmas Dinner for folks who are alone or unable to be with family. As a member of the Greater Area Belfast Ministerium, the church houses the local food cupboard, which gives out 200 bags of food twice a month, and serves as the contact for the Interfaith Fuel Fund, which helps folks with heating needs in the winter months.

The church is located at 23 Mill Lane in East Belfast. Worship services are at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. each Sunday, and include traditional as well as contemporary music. Holy Communion is served at both services and a nursery is provided at the 10:30 a.m. service for those age 5 and under.