Itâ€™s the part of Denver nicknamed â€œThe Hell Holeâ€ – a section of Denver that rarely makes the news unless itâ€™s bad news.
On Saturday, several black churches from Denver gathered in the McIntosh neighborhood off N.C. 16 to change that negative perception.
They held a block party to reach out to the community with a message of hope and Christian love in what was termed the â€œMcIntosh Project.â€
According to organizer Lewis McLean, a member of Rock Hill United Methodist Church on Old Plank Road, 19 churches were invited to participate in the event that ran 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
â€œAs of lunchtime, we had five churches here participating,â€ said McLean. â€œI sent out fliers and even talked to other churchâ€™s representatives at different functions.â€
The event was a first both for the churches that participated and the community, where about 50 people turned out for music, food and ministry.
â€œItâ€™s a perfect time for missions work between Lent and Easter,â€ said Rock Hill UMC pastor Frederick Bowman. â€œIt was a strong commitment from Lewis and his leadership that made this happen. Itâ€™s a way to build bridges in the community.â€
Pastor Franklin Lowery of Gold Hill Baptist Church called the turnout â€œwonderfulâ€ despite all of the negativity in the neighborhood.
â€œWe can have all the classes and seminars in the world but we need God to change peopleâ€™s hearts,â€ said Lowery.
Lowery also said whatâ€™s important for the Church as a whole is what is done to reach out to people.
â€œThereâ€™s too much in-house ministry and not enough outside the church walls,â€ he said. â€œWe have to do whatâ€™s needed and this is something that takes effort.â€
He added similar projects like the â€œMcIntosh Projectâ€ can go on â€œas a joint effort continuously.â€
â€œItâ€™s about Kingdom building,â€ said Lowery.
Pastor W.J. Neal of Christ Missionary Church in Charlotte came to the block party with free clothes for the neighborhood.
â€œItâ€™s important to be here today,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a great commission God has given us to preach to the people in the community. We want to be able to reach out and lead people to Christ. This is the best way to reach unchurched people.â€
Gilbert McLean of Rock Hill UMC agreed with Nealâ€™s sentiment.
â€œWeâ€™re here to let people know that the Church as a corporate body is here for them,â€ he said.
He added that several people from McIntosh has been coming to Rock Hill UMC.
â€œWe wanted to be sure that they still come,â€ said McLean. â€œWe hope to let the people know that we care.â€
Rock Hill UMC pastor Frederick Bowman also ministered to the crowd on the message of the prodigal son.
â€œWhoâ€™s been prodigal. Look around you,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re here to help you, McIntoshes. Weâ€™re here to show you weâ€™re prodigals.â€
He added that itâ€™s time for the community to wake-up to â€œits true condition.â€
â€œGod has blessed us and we need to let him know our true condition,â€ preached Bowman. â€œPeople must come to themselves and realize their condition is because of â€˜little olâ€™ meâ€™.â€
by Jon Mayhew