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First Baptist, Elyria, Ohio, offers the opportunity to dunk Pastor Patrick Odle at the church’s Community Day festival.

ELYRIA, Ohio—To honor those who serve Elyria and meet the church’s neighbors, First Baptist Church planned two special events.

First Responders Appreciation Day “was meant to be a simple first touch with our local community,” says Jon Casbohm, associate pastor of outreach and discipleship. A nonprofit community group called Connect Elyria allowed the church to hold the event in downtown Elyria during the city’s farmers’ market on Aug. 20.

Throughout the afternoon, the church family met and served many members of the community by setting up a bouncy house for kids and providing a picnic lunch for first responders and their families. The church met even more people by having volunteers prepare trays of food and delivering them to local police, fire, and EMS stations, as well as the hospital’s emergency department.

The church then held a Community Day festival Oct. 1 on its south lot. The event “was a huge success!” Casbohm says. “We hosted hundreds of new families from our community, as well as families from our church and Christian school.” With the help of its Christian school, the church provided carnival games, a dunk tank, and bouncy house, and invited food trucks to the premises. Local police, fire, and EMS stations brought vehicles to show off, and Cleveland Metro Life Flight made a special appearance, landing one of its helicopters on the soccer field and allowing families to look inside.

Both events were special times for First Baptist Church to meet it neighbors, make new friends, and honor those who dedicate their lives to Elyria’s health and safety.