On August 10, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Syracuse partnered with Eagle Life Wesleyan Church, Christ Is King Baptist Church and Psalm 19 Ministries to host Nedrowfest, a free family-friendly festival for the community of Nedrow. The small semi-urban community is bounded on the north by the city of Syracuse and on the south by the Onondaga Nation, a rural Native American reservation, facing issues of extreme urban poverty, crime and familial/community dysfunction in both contexts.
The festival took place in the parking lot of the building where all four ministries are located. In addition to providing a bounce house and live music, the ministries gave out free hot dogs, popcorn, sno-cones, drinks, and free kids games with prizes to the approximately 400 people in attendance. St. Andrew’s also gave away free clothes, books and household items through their garage sale ministry.
“Nedrowfest is simply meant to be a free demonstration of God’s love, blessing the community and extending Christian friendship,” says the Rev. Steven Evans. “There is no overt preaching at the event but many small conversations about faith and God and invitations to church.”
Sometimes an invitation is all it takes. A year ago, Jenny Hart, the Nedrowfest event coordinator, wasn’t going to church anywhere. She had been Roman Catholic for many years but was alienated from the church because of her divorce. Jenny came to St. Andrew’s through the invitation of a friend who was a longtime member. Though she had visited the church on special occasions, she started to come regularly to St. Andrew’s weekly garage sale, first as a customer and then as a volunteer. Now, she is a crucial part of the St. Andrew’s team.
“I wonder how we ever lived without her,” Steven says. “She’s a natural organizer and is so humble and friendly that she easily gets people involved.”
Ministry leaders believe God has brought them together on mission in Nedrow, as each rents storefront space in the same small plaza owned by the Central New York District of the Wesleyan Church. Eagle Life Church was formerly located on the Onondaga Nation, but lost their building due to arson and were not allowed to rebuild on the reservation. St. Andrew’s lost its building when they left the Episcopal Church. Christ Is King Church is a 3-year-old Southern Baptist Church plant that also runs a used and rare bookstore in their rental space.
“St. Andrew’s continues to look to build relational bridges with the community that we hope will carry the weight of the Gospel,” Steven says. “And we desire to do so in partnership with all of God’s people.”