For community events, this church partners rather than reinvents

By Johanna Willett | Apr 18, 2023

Volunteers from Way Family and Common Ground churches helped set out eggs for the Easter egg hunt, run carnival games, hand out ice pops and more.

On April 1, Way Family Church partnered with a Pima County community center to put on an Easter egg hunt at Thomas Jay Regional Park in Tucson.

So many people showed up — about 200 — they ran out of eggs, said Brandon Barrios, lead pastor at Way Family Church.

For the second year now, Way Family Church has supported Littletown Community Center’s egg hunt rather than organize their own.

“The community center already does a lot with the community, so instead of reinventing things, we wanted to partner with them and let them know we care,” Barrios said.

In fact, before the church plant even officially launched last October, Way Family Church reached out to the community center to see what kind of support they could offer.

Pastors David Taylor, left, and Brandon Barrios volunteer at Littletown Community Center’s egg hunt on Saturday, April 1. Taylor leads Common Ground Church in Sahuarita, the sending church for Way Family Church.

The Easter egg hunt in 2022 provided the first opportunity for partnership — as long as church volunteers agreed not to proselytize or overtake the event, Barrios said. They agreed, sending volunteers and raffle items. The event was a success.

Then, when the church needed a temporary place to meet, they rented space in the community center. And with the help of a partner, they donated chairs to the community center.
“That is when the relationship went from cordial to, ‘OK, these people actually care,’” Barrios said.

This February, the church also provided volunteers and raffle prizes for the Littletown Loop Your Heart event, a 3K run and walk and vendor fair.

“Now we’re just a text or call away,” Barrios said. This Easter, center leaders asked how Way Family Church could help. “We’re planning as if we’re a single entity now,” Barrios adds.

At this most recent Easter egg hunt, 40 volunteers from Way Family and its sending church –Common Ground Church — helped, giving away free ice pops and water bottles, setting out eggs, running carnival games and donating raffle prizes.

This is the second Littletown Community egg hunt Way Family Church has supported.

Working with Littletown Community Center has also changed the church’s whole approach to community service, Barrios said.

“Initially, because one of our core values is service, we would do something once a month to clean up the street of the surrounding area or find a project to do,” Barrios said. “We’re not doing that any more because the projects find us, and what we’re doing is directly affecting people in the community.”

For Way Family Church, the partnership is all about serving the community and building relationships.

“We want to be that salt and light,” Barrios said. “Salt and light just make things better. We didn’t have to reinvent anything.”

Johanna Willett, a freelance writer living in Tucson, is a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson.

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