Churches unified in multicultural community

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By Margaret Colson, Florida Baptist Convention

November 8, 2015

Partly cloudy skies, accented by the stench of the smoke from the nearby paper mill, provided the backdrop for a Saturday festival where children enjoyed free games and food as well as a strength team demonstration — all in the name of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the multicultural community.

For the seven churches who came together to organize the festival at Daffin Park, the pungent odor was not bothersome but, rather, encouraging. To them, it smelled like job opportunities in the neighborhood, which has seen its share of hard times.

Still, job growth is not the biggest need facing the families there, said Don Hodges, who recently served as interim pastor at Springfield Baptist Church. “The biggest need is for those living in the community to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.”

To that end, the seven multicultural churches joined together, providing volunteers and financial support for the Saturday festival.

“We are not competing with each other,” said Hodges. “There are enough people in our community for everybody to reach.”

A fellow pastor from New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Parnell Smith, agreed, “We can’t do enough of this.”

It’s his church’s first year as a member of the Florida Baptist Convention, and he embraces the spirit of cooperation in such community evangelistic events.

“The community needs to see the churches working together. We are all Kingdom-focused,” he said.

Volunteer Mona Young agreed. A longtime member of Springfield Church, she took a short break from playing with the children, saying, “We’ll all be in heaven together. Why not work together now?”

As the children come out to enjoy the festival atmosphere, complete with snow cones and sack races, it opens doors for parents to be reached with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ, said Kenric Conway, pastor of Family of God Church.

At the Saturday festival, members of the Strength Team showcased feats of strength while offering a clear Christian message and invitation to commit to Jesus Christ.

The block party at Daffin Park was a part of Crossover: “Love Northwest Florida,” an evangelistic effort spanning across 27 venues in the Panama City region.

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