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FBC Hoover, others hold party for Hispanic community outreachcomment (0)

June 7, 2007

By Bryan Gill

The air was buzzing May 30 with the sounds of children laughing, music playing and carnival games on the grounds of First Baptist Church, Hoover, in Birmingham Baptist Association (BBA).

And it buzzed with a slight Spanish accent.

The block party, put on by Iglesia Cristiana Agape and hosted by First, Hoover, was held to reach out to the Hispanic community in the area.

"Ministry to Hispanics in Hoover is essential because of the growing Latino population," said Randy Atkinson, pastor of First, Hoover.

Agape, a local outreach to Hispanics, is sponsored by several BBA churches — First, Hoover; Hunter Street Baptist, Hoover; Shades Mountain Baptist, Vestavia Hills; Lakeside Baptist, Birmingham; and Green Valley Baptist, Hoover.

"[Agape is] building bridges to the Latino community in hopes that one day, this will turn into a Hispanic church," said Harry Harper, Agape’s pastor for discipleship and teaching.

And the block party was just such a bridge-building activity, he said.

About 250 people attended the event, which offered beanbag games, giant inflatables, free food and a concert by Chi Alpha, Hunter Street Baptist’s youth choir.

"These carnivals are designed to build enthusiasm and excitement so that we can make contacts with families in the community," said Jonathan Rodgers, director of student music for Hunter Street Baptist.

"All this — the games, the food and the music — is a ministry tool to present the gospel," he said.

As time drew near for the concert to begin, those in attendance were encouraged to move toward the chairs setup around the outdoor stage.

After the concert, David Lovering, minister of high school students for Hunter Street Baptist, presented a message from 2 Corinthians 4:16.

Dennis Chamberlain, minister of worship and community outreach for Agape, interpreted the message into Spanish.

Ana Coronel, who teaches English as a Second Language and preschool Sunday School for Agape, said she hopes the block party will add more fuel to Agape’s outreach.

"We hope to eventually get more people to join this effort," she said.

"I want to pass along the peace of God that I have in my heart to others."

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