A few years ago Tim Covin gathered a bunch of teenagers from his church in Conecuh County and drove a couple of hours north to En Fuego, a one-day music festival in Verbena.
And the whole time they were there he kept thinking — “Why can’t we do something like this where we are?”
“We’re a pretty poor county compared to the rest of the state and a lot of people have spiritual needs too,” said Covin, youth ministry leader for Lyeffion Baptist Church, Evergreen. “Around here mamas and daddies aren’t in church. We’ve got to find a way to teach the students and let them know who Jesus is.”
So with that in mind — and with the support and encouragement of Lyeffion Baptist pastor Larry Johnson and Roshell McMillion, pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church — the Fire in the Park back-to-school bash was born. It’s vision? To pull together the community and draw in students from across racial and socioeconomic lines to hear the gospel.
This year’s Fire in the Park — set for Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. at Municipal Park in Evergreen — will feature actor/speaker Ken Bevel from the movies “Courageous” and “Fireproof” and will offer music and entertainment from Dewayne Rembert, pastor of Flatline Church at Chisholm, Montgomery; King Allico; Big Yae; Crossway Ministries IMPACT Youth and Area51 band.
The event will include free food, snow cones, school supplies and giveaway prizes like PlayStation 4 games.
Last year the back-to-school bash drew 350 to 375 people. They’re hoping for an even bigger crowd this year, said Covin, who also serves as interim pastor of Old Town Baptist Church, Evergreen.
As the vision for the event has developed it’s drawn together a leadership team from across the community’s denominations. Sharon Salter, a member of New Home Free Will Baptist, is serving as event chairman this year.
“Our desire is just to bring this community together,” Salter said. “If we can reach these kids and get them to Christ it will make a profound impact on our county. It’s our desire to see God move in a mighty way here.”
Joey Rodgers, associational missions director for Conecuh Baptist Association, said he’s grateful for the way local churches are coming together to reach the county for Christ.
“An event such as this where we as Christians come together, crossing traditional denominational, social and racial boundaries, provides an example for everyone in our community of the things we can accomplish when we work together for a common goal,” he said.
That goal — to give students the opportunity to meet Jesus and live changed lives — can offer “a better foundation for the future of our communities,” Rodgers said. (Grace Thornton)