Magazines 2023 Nov - Dec Uniting neighbours with community popup barbecues

Uniting neighbours with community popup barbecues

01 November 2023

Creative ways to love our neighbours

Emmanuel Congregational Christian Church hosted popup barbecues throughout neighbourhoods in Middleton, N.S., to reach out to their community.


Emmanuel Congregational Christian Church, Middleton, N.S.


Building relationships and reconnecting with neighbours in Middleton postpandemic


Popup community barbecues


$100 for food and beverages, $800 for a new barbecue, juice jugs and a canopy

uniting neighbours

Sweis Ubels, pastor, explains:

Covid was hard on the church. We shrank in size and our volunteers got sidelined in many ways. We recognized that although people were in community again and worshipping together, it felt like they were still more isolated than before Covid. Because of the shutdowns we had some money for outreach.

Our church is pretty good with food, and we know in our community people really gather around meals, so we thought, Why don’t we just have a barbecue? We decided to go a few doors down from our church to an apartment building down the street. We put up signs for a "Popup barbecue. Get food from friendly people," and invited neighbours. We saw something remarkable take place – lots of people showed up, and we didn’t advertise outside that building. We witnessed neighbours who had lived in the same building for an extended period introducing themselves to each other. All it took was our little barbecue.

Once we concluded we were onto something, we bought some gear – a barbecue, juice jugs and a canopy in case it rained. As we started serving more, we noticed various neighbourhoods formed little communities within our town. We were learning too. Since then, we have hosted eight barbecues all over Middleton and rounded it out with an end-of-summer barbecue at the church.

For those considering something like this in their community, I’d say we deliberately were not trying to draw a large crowd. We didn’t advertise outside the neighbourhoods we were going to. We really wanted to talk to people. Some of our volunteers were great behind the barbecue, others were dedicated to just talking to people.

Middleton is very rural, Atlantic Canada. We have our share of challenges, but God is at work here. faith today

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