Churches pull together last-minute block party
by Holly Smith
VACAVILLE - With only a couple of weeks notice, churches in Redwood Empire Baptist Association put together an evangelistic block party with the help of a student choir/mission team from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA.
One of the church's venues fell through and Howard Burkhart, California Southern Baptist Convention church planting catalyst, was able to connect members of the Georgia church with REBA director of missions Bob Lawler to host the Sunday afternoon block party at a Vacaville park June 1. Theme of the outreach effort was "Jump Start Summer."
The Georgia group flew in from Altanta, preceded by a "scout team" that drove a truck full of sound and stage equipment to Northern California.
They presented their program Sunday morning at North Hills Baptist Church in Vallejo. The choir, crew and sponsors numbered about 150, Burkhart said.
The group stayed at UC Berkeley, and worked with James Soy, who is planting a church this summer in San Francisco. They also helped clean up a local park and worked on rehabbing a school building, as well as helping with SEND North America teams in San Francisco. SEND is an effort of the North American Mission Board, and Johnson Ferry Pastor Bryant Wright is a leader in the San Francisco effort.
The afternoon block party included face painting, a cookie decorating booth, cake-walk, cotton candy, bounce houses, balloon animals and a free hamburger/hot dog meal. The choir of 101 voices also provided drama and music.
Pastor Vic Russell of St. Matthew Baptist Church in Vacaville, noted, "The opportunity to evangelize and to see the tremendous courage and giftedness of the Johnson Ferry youth in their ministry motivated me to get my local youth more involved with outreach."
He said his church members led five people to faith in Christ during the block party
Charles Vincent, student pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Vacaville, noted, "Jump Start Summer brought the church community together to work together. We had an opportunity to be the light in our community."
Russell added, "The fellowship of our various churches reminded me of a blessed family reunion."
Burkhart said the event was beneficial not only for Vacaville residents, but for the congregations in REBA: "They came together and saw what could be done" working for the "common good" of the cause of Christ. He said the churches realized "there's nothing Johnson Ferry did that we couldn't do on our own."
"God was all over the preparation," DOM Lawler added. "The entire outreach from beginning to end was planned, promoted and executed in 17 days.
"Praise God for His empowering, orchestrating Holy Spirit!
Last Published: June 26, 2014 10:58 PM