Sidewalk Ministries in the Desert Southwest Conference and Beyond
Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach
The Desert Southwest Conference, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, brought Sidewalk Sunday School Ministries to the region in 1999. Sidewalk Sunday School uses a converted box truck to become the traveling church. As Becky Cowart, a former Desert Southwest Conference Sidewalk Director from Tucson, AZ has always said, the truck is the ‘pied piper’ for God. Ministry teams travel to the same place on a weekly basis to bring the Good News to kids, families, teens, homeless – all of God’s children – in vulnerable settings. The worship service is high energy, multi-faceted fun and pointed commentary, with love and hope being the core values. There’s prayer, music, games, drama, thematic Scripture based object lessons, a sermon – and yes… even an offering.Volunteers form teams that interact with the kids directly and behind the scenes through prayer, curriculum, shepherds (think ushers with food), truck & sound crew (pied pipers), promotions (acquired give-aways) and visitation (we visit every family, every week ideally). Our volunteers are in relationship with our Sidewalk kids, families and each other, building authentic ties that go far beyond the Sidewalk service. We learn how we can be in community with our families: where they need help, what we can celebrate, and how we can strengthen their relationship with God.
Currently the Desert Southwest Conference has 15 Sidewalk Ministry sites across the conference. Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, Apache Junction, Mesa, Globe, Tempe, Scottsdale – the list goes on and on. Not all sites have trucks, not all sites meet weekly. Some are in parks, others in preschools, others in homeless shelters. The clay is molded as the Master’s hands decide…
The United Methodist denomination has many Sidewalk sites birthed from the ministry founded here. Each site has its own character and strengths. Fun and glorious ministry are occurring in places like Fort Dodge, IA, under the guidance of Jennifer Peterson, to El Paso, TX with Jane LaGrone’s long standing ministry there.