MAPLEWOOD — A community playground in the village of Maplewood will be dedicated, Sunday, Aug. 20.
“Two years ago, an anonymous donor gave the church (Maplewood United Methodist Church) a significant amount of money because of a tragedy in their life,” said the Rev. Bill Halter. “It was their dream to have a playground in the village.”
So the person, said Halter, donated the funds to the church with the ultimate goal of a playground’s being built on church grounds.
“We (church’s congregation) have a passion and love for our community,” said Halter. “We want the playground to be a community playground whether they come to church here or not.”
Halter said the church’s trustees worked with the donor to determine which pieces of playground equipment would be installed first.
“Our trustees are responsible for all donations made to the church,” he said. “They worked on the project for two years, so it was done in the correct manner. We wanted to honor the requests of the donor, so we worked hand-in-hand with the donor,” said Halter.
Today, the playground has swings, a teeter-totter, a merry-go-round, monkey bars and another climbing piece. The playground is located at the corner of the church’s property, away from the church building.
“We have a vision for the future to add onto the playground,” said Halter. “One of the items the donor wanted put in was a slide. Because of the cost for a slide, we were unable to put it in today. But future donations could be used to put the slide in.”
Halter said the playground is quickly becoming a favorite place to come for the village’s children.
“The kids immediately started showing up,” said Halter. “It’s awesome that they’re already here without any publicity.”
Halter said he and the church members have received positive comments from adults in the community about the playground.
“A neighbor, who is a parent, said they’re so thankful for the playground,” said Halter. “The kids are really enjoying it.”
Halter said the church’s goal is for the children to look at the playground as a place to come and play.
“We want the adults to look at it as a place to bring their kids and even swing themselves. We want them to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the area. It’s an open place for all to enjoy,” said Halter.
The church’s trustees and volunteers installed the equipment, said Halter.
“It was awesome for everyone who stepped up to help,” said Halter.
That sense of community, he said, is important for a small rural church such as Maplewood UMC.
“Often times, a small, rural church is overlooked,” said Halter. “People only see what the big churches can do. Small churches can do big things … we just don’t have the resources to do things a big church does.
“Everybody here is important,” he said. “We want to minister through outreach programs and bring them to the community. Every investment pays off big in the kingdom of God.”
The Aug. 20 event, said Halter, will include a community picnic and dedication. Instead of the traditional Sunday morning service, the Majesty Quartet will share their ministry in song during an outdoor service beginning at 11 a.m.
At 11:45 a.m., the playground dedication will be held. At noon, lunch will be served.
“We’ll have hamburgers and hot dogs,” said Halter. “There will be a bouncy house for the kids to play in. It’s a time of celebration for the community. This is a free picnic for our community. I hope we run out of food.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with a community when they look at the church as an institution they don’t belong to. We hope everyone will celebrate our time together as the community of Maplewood at the dedication,” he said. “There’s no pressure for someone to join the church. We just want to have a great time celebrating together.”
Halter said everyone is welcome to attend, “even those beyond the Maplewood” village limits. Maplewood United Methodist Church is located at 21544 Maplewood Road, Maplewood.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.