Center for Congregations Logo

Learn Go Do: A Transformative Journey of Community Engagement

Main Street United Methodist Church (Main Street UMC) in Boonville, Indiana, has undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to a Formative Power Grant from the Center for Congregations. This grant allowed them to implement the Learn Go Do program, a series of classes aimed at fostering community engagement and rebuilding relationships within the congregation. Reverend Julie Pimlott and congregant Katie Taylor, along with a dedicated team, spearheaded this initiative, which brought together people of all ages and backgrounds in a unique and uplifting way.

“Our church had been cautious during the pandemic, so we weren’t meeting in person,” says Reverend Julie. “We were lonely and really missed each other. So, we began to dream up this idea in early 2021 of hosting classes just for fun, allowing our congregation to come together and renew the relationships that had become distant.”

Learn Go Do began its inaugural semester in the fall of 2022, with the second semester following in the winter of 2023. Both semesters featured a wide variety of classes carefully crafted to cater to the congregation’s diverse interests and passions. Surveys conducted among congregants determined their preferences, resulting in a collaborative selection of classes, including Cook like a Chef, History of Race Through Film, Chalk Furniture Painting, All Kinds of Pie, Many Ways to Pray, and Watercolor Painting.

“We were fortunate to have professionals from within our congregation and our community who generously shared their expertise to teach these classes,” says Reverend Julie. “For example, a professional chef from our congregation led the cooking classes, and the History of Race Through Film class was taught by a retired professor specializing in race and English studies. Having these experts as instructors truly elevated the learning experience for our congregation.”

Each semester, participants enjoyed immersive outings to apply their newfound skills and deepen their connections. In the fall, they experienced behind-the-scenes action at a local Italian-Asian fusion restaurant, explored the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, and went on a furniture hunt followed by a delightful lunch. In the winter, they embarked on a pie-filled adventure in St. Louis, shared a final meal for the prayer class, and visited Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) to marvel at an Impressionist display harmonized with music.

“Through these class outings, we witnessed participants grow, learn, and enjoy each other’s company. Laughter and energy filled the classrooms,” says Reverend Julie. “The Learn Go Do program was a home run in terms of what we were able to do. It not only provided valuable knowledge and skills but also reinvigorated our congregation and solidified our church as an inclusive community.”

Learn Go Do‘s success was a result of dedicated teamwork. Reverend Julie expressed gratitude towards Main Street UMC’s committed grant team for their role in ensuring the project’s success. The grant also offered a mentoring opportunity, with college student Katie Taylor co-chairing the team. This experience empowered Katie to cultivate her leadership skills within the church, laying a solid foundation for future involvement.

“We could never have done all of this without the grant,” says Reverend Julie. “Not only did the Center for Congregations provide us with funding, but they also offered resources and ideas to help maximize the impact of our grant. They allowed us to dream big and helped make those dreams a reality.”

The Learn Go Do program’s positive influence has extended beyond its classes and outings. The sense of community fostered by the program has led to the establishment of monthly meals after church led by groups of all ages. This intentional effort to bring people together, share meals, and strengthen friendships has become an integral part of Main Street UMC’s ongoing mission.

“If you come to Main Street UMC, you will experience joy, energy, and friendship that is way beyond what we could have ever imagined when we began this program,” says Reverend Julie. “We are so grateful for the Center for Congregations’ support. They genuinely want your congregation to grow in its spiritual depth and they will do as much as they can to help you succeed.”