MAYNARD – About 270 people attended Passion in the Park – a block party held on Easter Sunday by Witt’s Chapel Baptist Church, Maynard. It was a sizeable turnout considering the town only has a population of about 400.
The event, true to its name, took place in a park.
“I was convicted last Easter about trying to reach out to those who might not feel comfortable coming inside our church building because of their preconceived ideas about us ‘Christians,’” said Bruce Stone Sr., pastor of Witt’s Chapel Baptist Church. “I wanted to give them a more relaxed, less formal opportunity to encounter some of us and the Lord on Easter Sunday. Passion in the Park was the result.”
He added that most of those who attended were unchurched.
“Several of the young adults there personally thanked me for getting to go to church, rather than thanking me for all the food, games, prizes, etc.,” Stone said.
He described the event as a “big step of faith,” noting he wasn’t sure how many people would attend.
But he didn’t need to worry. Crowds enjoyed games, prizes and food, in addition to worship and a message. And Current-Gaines Baptist Association allowed Witt’s Chapel to use its block party trailer.
Stone said, for him, the “highlight” of the event came in the form of a conversation with a mother standing in line for food.
“She said she wanted to thank me, and I said, ‘Well, you’re welcome,’” related Stone. “And she looked at herself – kind of head to toe – and said, ‘I wanted to go to church today, but I didn’t think I could. I heard y’all were doing this. I knew I could hang around some Christian people at least on Easter Sunday.’ And she said, ‘I didn’t know y’all were singing and preaching too, and I got to go to church.’ And she had a big smile on her face.
“That was worth it all to me – because that was the whole reason we did it,” Stone said.
He said the church wants to hold similar events in the future.
“This was the first step in us getting out of the pew and into the street and trying to reach our community,” he said. “(We) plan on doing more events like it.”