TURNERSVILLE, N.J.—Desiring to build bridges with community residents, businesses, and organizations, Washington Baptist Church held “Harmony in the Park” with help from Good News Baptist Church in Willingboro and Chelsea Baptist Church in Atlantic City, both in New Jersey. The churches presented six hours of music and inspirational presentations.
Washington Baptist’s pastor, Lex DeLong, says the goal was to provide an opportunity for the church to bring its neighbors “into proximity of the knowledge of God through relationship and putting God’s Word in their hands.”
While studying the book of Acts, the congregation developed a growing burden to take the knowledge of God to their neighbors instead of simply expecting the community to come to them. Nearly 50,000 people live within a four-mile radius of the church. A large percentage of these do not attend church. Washington Baptist wants to introduce these people to God’s gift of a Savior in Jesus Christ and to attract believers who are struggling to find a loving, Biblically focused, God-seeking church.
Chris Katulka, manager of The Friends of Israel’s radio ministry, served as the master of ceremonies. In addition to the music, K-9 units from two townships demonstrated their abilities. Pastor DeLong says that today’s culture seems to breed anything but harmony in public communities, so his church desires to foster a mutual appreciation within the community and with the police, who are “tasked with putting their own personal safety on the line for our safety.” He says it was wonderful to aid that process “as we testify of a harmony that can transcend the intensifying struggles of culture.”
Food establishments, trinket vendors, medical services, community clubs, home improvement specialists, physical fitness and martial arts gyms, and public entertainers set up vendor tables and displays around the park. Hospitals and doctors worked together to provide health screenings and share advice, while a grocery store provided free nutritional counseling. Author Michele Chynoweth presented and signed copies of her latest Christian fiction book. The church and its cosponsors also provided a bouncy house obstacle course, hotdogs, and water bottles—all free of charge—along with numerous giveaways throughout the day.
“Harmony in the Park” was held on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, with high humidity and temperatures reaching 98 degrees. As hot as it was and though other activities scheduled for the park were canceled, over 200 people attended.
The church has scheduled next year’s event for the end of September, when, they hope, they’ll have cooler weather. Pastor DeLong says that as they plan for next year, they continue to look for public arenas where they can present the gospel of Christ to their unreached community. “All of this is done for God’s glory, in His power, by His little church. Pray that we are able to harvest the fields that God has prepared for us for His praise.”