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Connellsville ministerial association to host block party

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Saturday, July 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As part of its mission to forge stronger bonds with its neighbors, the Connellsville Area Ministerial Association will host its ninth annual Community Block Party from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Yough River Park.

The Rev. Bob Strader, one of the organizers, said the event can build bridges between the religious community and the community at large.

“We want people to know who we are,” he said. “We want them to know that they can come to us for help. We also can direct people to other human-service organizations.”

This year's party will feature rapper Fresh Rev, as well as mime, dance and drama ministry teams.

The Spring Valley Community will serve pancakes. Representatives from area human service agencies will be on hand. Free hot dogs and drinks will be served.

The Rev. Matt Goldsberry, pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in South Connellsville, said churches can play a special role in forming strong communities, especially by reaching out to young people.

“We can stop the brain drain from our communities and convince people that Connellsville isn't a bad place to live,” he said.

The Rev. Don Smith, pastor of World Christian Outreach Ministries in Connellsville, said the block party showcases the unity among community churches.

“We come together not as separate churches, but as one church, serving one God,” he said.

He said the event, which began as small, neighborhood block parties, has flourished.

“Once the city of Connellsville began to support it, this event began to grow,” he said.

It all began in 2004, when Strader and Smith began an “Adopt a Block” ministry in the city with the idea that churches would “adopt” the people in their immediate neighborhoods and attend to their needs.

Church members began to serve as hosts for small, neighborhood block parties.

For the past several years, the ministerial association has hosted the block party in Yough River Park.

Strader would like to see the program continue its focus on substance abuse.

“This situation needs to be handled carefully,” he said. “However, it cannot be dismissed. We need to be out there. We can help curtail this problem.”

Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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