"The True Meaning of Christmas” tour hosted by The United Methodist Church paid a visit to the Circle City, Monday, December 11, 2017. The gift-wrapped, fully decked-out, tour bus stationed in the Roberts Park UMC parking lot was open from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m, at the corner of Alabama and Vermont Street offering cups of hot cocoa, prayer, resources, and an inviting space for people to share their thoughts, concerns, and joys this Advent season.   

The tour is an extension of the denomination’s effort to connect people searching for community and deeper meaning in life with a local United Methodist church as well as an opportunity to put into action our mission of making "disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

With every cup of cocoa, participants received a travel mug, donned with the tour’s logo, as they shared moments of light-hearted conversation and an opportunity to break away from the tensions life sometimes brings. Conversation topics spanned Christmas plans, the joy of bringing gifts to young children, and spending quality time with family and friends. The tour also provides an opportunity to answer the needs of our neighbors. Participants were welcome to donate essentials, like breakfast items and lightly-worn clothing, to help replenish the stock of local church missions and outreach ministries. Roberts Park maintains an active ministry with a large population of people experiencing homelessness, which the tour allowed the chance to engage with and minister to. Rev. Matt Landry, associate pastor of Meridian Street United Methodist Church, and Rev. Ronnie Bell, associate pastor of North United Methodist Church were also in attendance ministering to the participants and serving as another way to connect others to the vibrant United Methodist ministries serving Indianapolis. 

The Indianapolis tour stop provided ample opportunity to join in intentional, heartfelt prayer. The service shelf attached to the side of the truck comes furnished with pens and prayer requests forms inviting attendees to share their prayer concerns, wishes, and joys for the holiday season and the year to come. 

“The tour is a great idea and you are right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It’s been good to have you here and just remind people what really is at the heart of Christmas” said Rev. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes in a short interview with Reiss. Andrew is the Senior Pastor at Roberts Park UMC. 

The 21-city tour stopped in Champaign, IL the day before at the University of Illinois. Though temperatures were in the mid-twenties UMC Representative, Angela Reiss, was thankful for the slightly warmer weather. “There was a lot of wind in Illinois,” she claimed when asked how Indy’s weather compared to her previous tour stop. 

Read updates, view photos of the tour stop, and learn how you can host a hot cocoa fellowship event at your local church at www.unwrapchristmas.org.