MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 12, 2013

Church's bash draws a crowd

By April Reynolds
Times Correspondent

— FORT GIBSON — First Baptist Church hosted the second annual back to school bash on Saturday.

Children and parents waited in line for the event to start.

Pastor Danny Gandara addressed the crowd, explaining the events they had prepared, up to a week in advance for the community.

“The heartbeat of why we do this is to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ,” Gandara said. “Acts 1:8 tells us to go out and help the people of Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and tell them about Jesus, and it’s got to start at home, this is our Jerusalem.”

The event had school supplies from pre-kindergarten through high school, a free sale with clothing and shoes, and two huge water slides for a little bit of fun too.

The church had prepared and gave away 500 bags to students, co-coordinator Teka Stephens said.

“All of our Bible school classes helped out,” Stephens said. “Each class prepared the bags for children in their age groups and are helping hand them out too.”

Stephens said she likes to lead by example; her children were helping out too.

“Instead of just telling them to go help, they see me doing too,” she said. “My daughter Rileigh helped me shop for all the supplies and my other daughter Leslie is helping distribute them.”

Stephens said co-coordinator Carrie Waltman was there helping every step of the way.

“We are at the hip — we do everything together,” Stephens said.

And many other members chipped in from mowing the grass on the church’s 15 acres to getting the tables and blow ups set up.

“We like to involve everyone in the church family,” Stephens said.

Kathy Whitworth, a member who worked the free sale area, had been there since 6 a.m. and had several tables and clothing racks full of free clothing not just for the children, but adults too.

“We are trying to meet the needs of our community through Christ,” Whitworth said. “It’s an effort of our whole church, everyone pitches in.”

And the church had help getting the word out from the community.

Mac’s Drive In had posted the event on their sign along with the Phillips 66 and Fort Gibson school issued two alerts by phone to those students already in the school systems database.

The children buzzed around looking at their new supplies that came in neon green bags and waiting their turn to go down a water slide.

Delanie Sourjohn said she was looking forward to starting first grade.

“I am excited that I get to have a new teacher, Mrs. Waggle,” she said.

“I like going on the playground and math,” Zachary Mullen said.

Araya Cox, a soon to be fourth-grader, couldn’t hide her passion for her favorite school activities.

“I like swimming, lunch and recess,” she said.