Connellsville Adopt-A-Block event set July 20 in Yough Park

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

Yough Park in Connellsville will come alive again on July 20 when the 9th annual Connellsville Adopt-A-Block event will be held from 2-8 p.m.

“The park will be overflowing with music, drama, fun, games, free food, face painting and balloon art for kids of all ages. We invite everyone of any age to this free event sponsored by the Connellsville Area Ministerial Association and supported by local individuals, businesses and organizations,” said the Rev. Robert Strader of World Christian Outreach Ministries.

Strader is the coordinator of the Adopt-A- Block party, which has been the name of this community event from the time it began nine years ago. It is always held on the third Saturday in July.

Participating churches include World Christian Outreach Ministries, Connellsville Church of God and Calvary Assembly of God. Other churches of the CAMA may not be there but reportedly are helping behind the scenes with money, prayer and other needs. The CAMA members have helped the block party grow each year.

The day will officially begin in the stage area with prayer, followed by opening remarks by City Councilman Tom Karpiak. The National Anthem will be sung by Toni Brayo.

A live ministry from Word of Life Ministries in Greensburg, FOCUS, will perform drama for children and adults. “Loving Hands Puppetry,” from World Christian Outreach Ministries, also will perform. Tialar Sokol, as well as Ignited Youth, will be part of the program.

“A Christian rap artist will be there this year,” Strader added. “I think he will be enjoyed especially by those ages 14-30. His name is Doug Sevier, aka ‘Fresh Rev.'

“Also from Greensburg will be a praise and worship team named ‘Power and Praise,' featuring Mark Adams.”

Guest speaker, who will be giving the Word of God at 6:30 p.m., is the Rev. Eugene Cooper.

Face painting will be offered throughout the day by various artists, including those from the Spring Valley Bruderhof Community, whose members will also prepare blueberry pancakes for everyone to enjoy.

They use no electric, no propane. They bring their own wood, start the fire and cook naturally, organizers noted. This group has been part of Adopt-A-Block for three years.

Seth The Balloon Dude will be at the park making favorite balloon animals and other designs for kids, from 3-6 p.m.

Popcorn will be given out by Patty Pritts of the Connellsville Senior Citizens Center. Hot dogs in the afternoon, hamburgers in the evening and drink will be served, also at no charge.

“We are hopeful and prayerful that all our Fayette County Human Service Agencies that have always been on hand will be able to attend this year,” Strader said. “We know that Rendu Services will be there as they are every year. We appreciate their willingness and support. It enables those in need to connect with resources that can help.”

There will be free giveaways every half-hour, starting at 3 p.m. Businesses throughout Connellsville and Fayette County have donated. Organizers expressed thanks to those who are generous in their giving for the yearly event.

“If anyone comes to Christ on this day and wants to be baptized in the water, we will offer that right there in the river,” Strader said. “It is a community block party. It is about souls. Our emphasis is on trying to change lives in the community. There are those who are fed up and want their lives to change. This is the place to come for that. We have a prayer tent with people who will minister to them, share the Gospel with them and pray with them.”

“This is one of the great opportunities we have, as different churches in the community, to come together to represent the one church of Jesus Christ on that day, put aside our differences in the ways we worship and come together as one,” said the Rev. Matt Goldsberry, pastor of Calvary Assembly of God Church. “It is also a great way to highlight the city, highlight Yough Park and even reach people who are traveling through who will see that we love our community.

“It is a good, positive place,” he continued. “We get people from the bike trail and from the river who enjoy seeing the activity going on. It's not about any one church; it's about the church as a whole.”

“It is a time to come together in our city,” said the Rev. Don Smith of World Christian Outreach Ministries. “It shows us working together, not just as churches but as people working for the community. We want to help anyone who needs it by making resources available to them. We have a religious program throughout the day; food, music and giveaways. It is a wonderful day of fellowship in an outdoor setting and a good day to come together and enjoy each other in the city of Connellsville. That's what it's all about.”

“The event is growing every year, and we really want to thank the city for its support,” Goldsberry said. “Without it, this would be very hard to have it like we do. There is something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. I think we gave out 600 hot dogs last year, as well as hamburgers, beverages and blueberry pancakes. We have a spiritual theme, but we also offer information from area agencies for those who need help. There is information for children to those who are in need of employment. It is a well-rounded afternoon.

“If you can only come for an hour, come for an hour,” he continued. “If you can come and stay all day, do that. It is a day to celebrate family, community and the Lord.”

The church is always a vital part of any neighborhood, organizers noted. Everyone is invited to attend this free event, which will be held rain or shine, and bring a lawn chair to sit.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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