If you live in the Corinth Learning Tree neighborhood like our family, you may have enjoyed the Fourth Friday Summer Concert Series in Franklin Park through the years. I’ve always thought this free event would be a great place for The Learning Tree to add some fun, so I called Parks and Rec and asked about getting involved. “Not us,” said Parks and Rec., “the concerts are sponsored by a neighborhood church.”
A little puzzled, I sent off an email, made a visit to the church, and discovered a story of generosity and community in our backyard. I had an opportunity to meet a lovely, warm and charming woman who shared with me the spark that started this community-wide event 11 years ago. Before she told me about her work at Hillcrest Covenant Church, with a beaming smile, Dori Brown proudly told me she is a grandma of six (all under the age of five!) and a regular shopper at The Learning Tree. She knew all about us!
I asked about her position and the church. “I am Pastor of Invitational Living”, she said. “This name reflects our desire to extend an invitation to a place and people of welcome, relationships, and growth; a community of worship and giving thanks; and a community to serve together.”
The church has been at the corner of 87th and Nall Ave. for 55 years and they appreciate being part of the neighborhood. Dori explained that many years ago the congregation explored how they could serve the community. In their reading they found a provocative question. “Would your community miss you if you weren’t here?” They discussed that question. What could they do for the community that would fit the neighborhood and be enjoyed by all?
The concept of simple, free, and family friendly concerts was born! Now in its 11th year at Franklin Park, the concert series has evolved and become not only an annual church project where church volunteers set up, serve and clean up, but an event that has pulled in the help of others wanting to be involved. Boy Scout troops have helped through the years, local and neighborhood bands have been featured, and Kevo the Klown does face painting and creates animal balloons for kids. Hy-Vee grocery store at 76th and State Line Road gives the church discounts on food so they can offer concert-goers a free hotdog dinner.
“The City of Prairie Village has been a dream to work with and the neighborhood now looks forward to these concerts on the fourth Fridays in May, June, July, and August,” Dori told me. “It is a pleasure to be a part of the community in such a simple and enjoyable way. All you need to bring is lawn chairs! We hope you’ll come out and enjoy an evening on us.”
Hillcrest Covenant Church gives the neighborhood this generous gift each summer. This year, we’re happy to say, The Learning Tree will be there also, grateful for the opportunity to add even more fun to this community event!
Hillcrest invites you to be a part of the Fourth Friday team. For more information, go to their website:
See you in the park soon!