On the Fourth of July, First UMC provides one of the best spots for parade-watching in Marlow. And the church’s welcome extends beyond its prime location on Main Street.
The intentional hospitality embodies Marlow-First’s mission as "the difference-making place."
In front of the church building, large trees shade the route for the red, white, and blue pageantry. Hours before the annual parade, drivers claim such coveted parking spaces all along the street.
But church members arrive even earlier. They place chairs to secure several spots in front of First UMC for pedestrians.
The result? Families with children in strollers, elderly people, those with disabilities, and others enjoy comfortable, safe, front-row views without squeezing between vehicles. The church also passes out free popcorn and cold lemonade.
Pastor Travis Muse wrote about one mother with two young children.
The children looked forward to the parade but, because of an extreme sensitivity condition, any long-term exposure to sun caused tremendous harm to them. The mother hoped to stand and watch the parade in the shade of the church’s trees. Otherwise, she explained to her children, they could not stay.
With the prospect of two very disappointed children, she parked two blocks away and the family walked toward the church. The mother did not know the welcome that awaited them.
"Our efforts made all the difference for her and her children," the pastor wrote.