Mt Albert Baptist Church (MABC) has run an international street food festival for several years. For various reasons we decided to do things differently this year, including having a much larger scale and scope than before.
We realised this was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our wider multicultural community. We are blessed with a lot of great talent in our church and we regularly have special events that showcase this talent. However, from the wider community’s perspective, it is not visible. People from the community simply drive by seeing a car park full of cars.
So, in faith, we planned to hold the food festival in the car park. We went further though, and for the first time we chose to hold ‘church in the car park’. We intentionally designed a programme that would appeal to our wider community.
The tag line for International Ministries at MABC is ‘Celebrating diversity, building community’. We aim to raise awareness of the various cultures represented in our church community and to grow our understanding and appreciation of these different ethnicities. The programme reflected this as we celebrated this diversity through ethnic music, dance and cultural games.
We also chose a theme that would attract wider community support—the international refugee crisis—and had a fund-raising element to the event as well. We partnered with World Vision to promote this and interviewed one of their representatives. A refugee also shared his story.
We ran the programme from 10am-2pm on a temporary stage on the covered deck of a large truck. We had approximately 15 different international food stalls, along with various MABC ministry stalls. These included ESOL, children’s ministries, Alpha, the toy library, mainly music and youth ministries.
God blessed us with beautiful weather, and more than 500 people joined us for the event, including a large number from the wider community. It was a special day enjoying delicious ethnic food, while celebrating the rich cultural diversity. We raised $4,000 for World Vision’s work with refugees overseas, and we believe some important bridges have been built into the community that is Mt Albert.
Story: Rob Lovatt, International Ministries Pastor, Mt Albert Baptist Church