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Tuscaloosa church holds community helpers day to reach school next doorcomment (0)

May 25, 2006

By Erica Harms

When members of Forest Lake Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, look out the church’s windows, they’re instantly reminded of the neighbors they are trying to get inside their church walls.

For years, the church has purposefully reached out to the children of University Place Elementary School next door.

“It has not been easy to reach into the school,” said Ann McCormack, leader of Forest Lake Baptist’s children’s ministry team.

But ministry there hit a new high when the children’s ministry team sponsored a new outreach event, a Community Helpers Block Party, which took place April 22.

“We got the idea about having the community helpers day to help encourage the children to appreciate those who help us every day and who often go unnoticed,” McCormack said.

“We wanted to encourage those who help us, as well as teach our children to show appreciation to those in community service.”

The Tuscaloosa Baptist Association church received more than 75 nominations to honor community helpers, all of whom were invited to the event and presented with an award. More than 150 people were in attendance.

The highlight of the afternoon was a giant tailgate party out of people’s vehicles in the school parking lot.

Music played as children scrambled from one game to the next.

“There are a lot of unchurched and needy kids in the school. They let us use the parking lot (for church events), so we help them do whatever we can,” added Micky Hicks, also on the children’s ministry team.

Two years ago, Forest Lake sponsored a Mother’s Day essay contest in the school that proved highly successful. Last year, the church added a “Paws for Praise” dog show to its calendar of events, with more than 50 dogs in attendance.

Each year, the church tries to think of new ways to support its neighbors and neighborhood school, McCormack said, and the block party was just another way to keep doing that.

Pastor Donald Payne said he was impressed with the event.

“It was a chance for us to say thank you to those who serve our community,” he said. “We’ve done several things to try to connect with folks. It’s hard to get unchurched people into a church, so the connections we’ve made through these events have been beneficial.”

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