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Ross Township's St. John's to mix fresh produce and fellowship

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the McKnight Journal
Joe Conroy of McCandless (left) buys a jar of Uncle Fester's Favorites spread from co-owner Derek Pister of West View during the farmers market at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ross Township on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.

Now that spring is heading into summer, the urge to get out and do something is spreading.

Those winterlong dreams of weekend adventures or just enjoying the weather finally can become a reality.

If those grand plans and getaways interfere with Sunday services, St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Ross Township's Perrysville neighborhood, has the answer.

The church, at 920 Perry Highway, will hold fireside services at 7 p.m. every Wednesday from June 11 through Aug. 20.

The service will take place when the farmers market held in the church parking lot ends. The farmers market already has begun and runs from 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday through September.

A designated area, including a fire pit, will be set up behind the church for the service. It will not be as formal as the traditional Sunday service. The service on Wednesday night will focus more on Scripture readings and a sermon. There will be songs and a guitarist strumming along.

In the event of inclement weather, the service will move indoors.

The Rev. Michael Robinson of Ross, senior pastor at the church, said he has gotten plenty of positive feedback regarding plans for the new service. Because the farmers market is such a popular event, Robinson said, it made perfect sense to have the service afterward.

“During the summer months, we have a lot of people who go away for the weekends,” he said. “They go off to the cabin or something like that. We said, ‘Why don't we have a weeknight outdoor service?'”

Chris Bauer and her boyfriend, Jerry Mazur, both Ross residents, run the farmers market. Bauer, who is not affiliated with the church, said she supports having the service and hopes the church can piggyback on the market's popularity and have people stay afterward for the service.

“The church has been wonderful to us,” Bauer said. “We're thrilled if we can help.”

The church does not charge a site fee to the market vendors but instead seeks donations for the North Hills Food Bank. The market, which is early in its third year, has donated more than $4,000 so far. The market features fresh fruits and vegetables; eggs' and dairy products, such as milk and cheese, along with other items.

Robinson recommends that people who plan to attend the service bring a lawn chair or blanket because seating will be limited. He said he hopes the service will attract people to the church and create in them a connection to their faith.

“I think it's good to take risks and try something new, while not moving too far away from the traditional service,” Robinson said.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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