Compton Heights Christian Church in St. Louis celebrates 15 years of “Happy Friday” outreach! “Happy Friday” started in 2004 when one of our Elders, Madeline Haraway, was leading a devotion. In it, she shared the story of a minister in Washington State who took his pot of coffee out to the road to share with whoever walked by. Madeline’s sharing of that story started a conversation that resulted in “Happy Friday.” The leaders, Kathy Mead and Madeline Haraway, have maintained the energy and created the foundation for these 15 years of outreach.
The purpose of “Happy Friday” is very simply to greet and build connection with people passing by the church on Friday mornings. It is to extend love and care, to be present and build relationship. Sometimes there is conversation about faith, but most often not. There is always welcome and a sense of fun. And there is always coffee!
A small group of church members gather on Friday morning a bit before 7 am to set up a folding table with coffee, hot chocolate, and cups with lids to go. Holding up large hand-made signs that say “Happy Friday,” those who gather just stand in front of the church on S. Grand, from 7:00 to 8:00 am waving and sometimes shouting out “Happy Friday!” to people passing by in cars. (S. Grand is a busy street with people traveling to work and to school). There is a bus stop next to the church, so people getting off buses and waiting on buses often have coffee. People walking to work or school stop by. Some people just drive by and honk and wave! Some cars pull over and church members meet them at the car window to take their coffee or hot chocolate order.
There are often longer conversations with those walking. Over time, people get to know each other! Some have shared news of new jobs, or graduations. One man came just to let us that know that his wife had twins! Some share a struggle in their lives and ask for prayer. Some choose to stop and take part in greeting others!
For the first several years, we were there, rain or shine, in cold and snow! That is part of what caught the attention of the community! In recent years, our group has decided not to go out when it is below freezing, or in significant rain.
There have been some who have come to worship and have become a part of the congregation. One woman who eventually became an Elder, said “I kept passing you on my way to work, and I just wanted to find out what was going on in that church with the ‘crazy’ people out on the street!” Some never become a part of the worshiping congregation, but are definitely a part of our community. Deep relationships have been built such that many of us gathered at one of the apartment buildings nearby to have a memorial service for one of the “Happy Friday” community who died to this life. Over the years we have received letters and phone calls from people we’ve never met, telling us that their job is hard, but on Friday mornings they get to work and find themselves still smiling because of our greeting.
Recently we received a piece of mail for the church addressed simply to “The Happy Friday People” 2149 S. Grand Blvd.
We give thanks for those devoted ones who have kept “Happy Friday” going all these years – a consistent expression of joy and God’s love on S. Grand. Thanks to Madeline Haraway, Kathy Mead, Walt Tarde Jr., Arlene Arbogast, Darrell Hughes, Marilyn Koncen, Bud Obermiller, and all along the way who have greeted others with such delight and joy!
We know that other congregations have been inspired to create their own. Memorial Blvd. Christian Church in St. started “Happy Thursday” and then it branched into serving a meal! Faith Christian in Memphis, TN took up the practice a number of years ago! So – create your own! Don’t overthink it – keep it simple; just head out to the street ready to greet! God is already there!
Thanks to CHCC pastor Rev. Dr. Jecque Foster for this story.
See their Facebook page for more photos.