A group of parishioners at St. Christopher, Richmond Hill has been playing ping pong for years, but it wasn’t until last fall that our ping pong ministry really started to flourish. As our church went through a three-year missional transformation, we built a close relationship with a local high school, Bayview Secondary. We discovered that many teens also loved to play ping pong, but they had no place to play. As a result, our church started a ping pong and board game club on Thursday afternoons. Michele Taylor, our English ministry pastor, spearheaded this new outreach to the local students. We also purchased 16 new ping pong rackets.
The club started with eight youth and has steadily grown to 25 students. Every Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Pastor Michele leads a discussion time with the teens about mental health issues or Christian teachings. In the meantime, a new couple who joined the church last spring brought over 10 new people to play ping pong weekly. As a result, St. Christopher’s now has ping pong sessions on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Dozens of people are playing ping pong weekly at St. Christopher’s!
Besides being a great outreach opportunity, we wondered how we could channel this enthusiasm for an even greater good. We decided to use the momentum to both strengthen our church’s team spirit and to raise money for a great cause – FaithWorks. As there are 18 organizations under the FaithWorks umbrella, we made it our goal to try to have an 18-hour ping pong relay marathon. Once the idea was shared with the leaders, everyone got excited about making it happen and an organizing committee set two goals: raise $6,000 for FaithWorks and have 60 people participate in the relay.
All the players endeavoured to find sponsors, and in our church announcements we urged parishioners, “If you are not playing, please sponsor someone to play.” The response was extremely positive.
We started each of the two marathon relay days (March 22 and 24) with a prayer to remember the ministries of all 18 FaithWorks’ organizations. There was tremendous energy in the room. Then the games began. Some came to play for an hour, others for six hours. By the end of the first day, we had raised $2,950 with 53 players. By the 12th hour of the second day, we were edging close to our target of $6,000. By the end of the 18th hour, we had surpassed our target and reached $8,812. Donations continued to flow and at the end, we raised $9,002 for FaithWorks. Over 60 players contributed to the project!
Parishioners not only had a great time playing but also had opportunities for fellowship with new and potential church members from the community. One person has started to join our Thursday YEAH (outreach) club. We thank God for all these blessings. As Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”