Peninsula churches turn to old-time tent revival to reach the faithfulOCEAN PARK - "Is this holy ground that we're standing on?" asked Pastor Ele Garcia of the Ocean Park Methodist Church Monday night as he began to preach to around 40 people attending the tent revival meeting on Sheldon Field in Ocean Park. "It is, because we are here," he affirmed.
Speaking in his self-described "broken English," Garcia spoke of the Apostle Paul from the book of Acts, and how he preached in Athens, in an unfamiliar place or a place that was not originally intended for such work - kind of like in the middle of a soccer field.
"Sometimes we need to revise our approach to evangelizing," said Garcia.
Outreach at the Beach 2005 is attempting just that. A week-long joint effort by multi-denominational churches from throughout the Peninsula will play host to the community through this Sunday.
Beginning last Sunday, July 10, under a balloonish blue- and white-striped circus-style tent, local pastors and performers have been taking turns leading music, preaching and just trying to reach out to the community at large. There are services at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. most days and morning Bible studies most others (see schedule).
"Our whole purpose of being here is the unity of the churches and reaching those that are un-churched," said Pastor DeWayne LaPointe, whose Peninsula Assembly of God Church sponsors this new annual event. "Whether they're youth-aged or senior citizens, we would like to see them join us here."
Things got underway Sunday night with the largest crowd yetz, this year or last, with around 70 people in attendance. So far they've averaged around 20 people at the afternoon services. As of now, the majority of people coming are those who already attend a church. But LaPointe is hopeful that the overall atmosphere will attract others interested in finding out what they're all about.
"There's been people coming into the tent picking up information," he said. "I spent 45 minutes talking to a gentleman this morning. When we were putting the tent up we had people coming by, asking what we're doing. I think once the information gets out there we'll have some more show up."
Notably absent from the proceedings Monday night was the presence of people under the age of 35. Outside of a couple of toddlers, no one attending was outside of that upper age range. This is something that will be remedied Friday night when the revival will take a turn towards the younger generation with "Youth Explosion" night.
That evening will be completely centered around Christian youth culture and include activities starting at 2 p.m., a hot dog barbecue at 4 p.m. and a concert by Christian alternative rock band Soul Deep at 6 p.m.
Events schedule for Outreach at the Beach RevivalWed. July 13 - Services at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. conducted by Pastor Paul Paquin of the New Hope Baptist Church. He will be joined at 6 p.m. by the church's music team.
Thurs. July 14 - Services at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. by Pastor David George of the New Life Assembly of God Church. He will be joined at 6 p.m. by the New Life Church band, King's Highway, for a music service and sermon.
Fri. July 15 - Youth Explosion night, which will feature special music, speakers and free food between services. At 6 p.m., alternative Christian rock band, Soul Deep, will perform
Sat. July 16 - At 6 p.m. only, the service will feature music by a variety of local church groups.
Sun. July 17 - Services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The morning service will be conducted by Pastor DeWayne LaPointe of the Peninsula Assembly of God Church. The 6 p.m. service will feature Pastor Tom Inserra of the Upper Room Fellowship.
Music will also be an important part of two other services as well, with the New Life Assembly of God church band Kings Highway as part of Pastor David George's Thursday night presentation, and Saturday, when the entire evening service will be dedicated to music and singing by whomever wishes to participate.
Singing with real gusto to some of the old hymns Monday - with eyes closed, hands in the air - Dorothy Pior said she enjoys attending events like these. She and her husband Weldon, both of Chinook, came last year as well. She said the services reminded her of like-meetings she attended in her youth.
"As children we grew up in similar camp meetings in the summertime. Fellowshipping not only with our friends but also worshipping with those of like-mind," said Pior, who added that having the different churches participate is also appealing. "Our like-mind is that we know the Lord, Jesus Christ, and want to worship him and honor him."
LaPointe said he sees room for growth in the event next year, where he hopes they will be able to provide a community fair, in which services like optical and blood pressure testing can be available to people.
"We'll reach out to the churches to help us with school supplies and bags and things like that. It'll be a community-wide outreach program," he said.
After his sermon Monday, Pastor Garcia said he appreciates what something like this can do for the community, even if it is on a small scale, or even just a personal one.
"There is a lot of good outside the church, and sometimes we do not appreciate that," he said, adding that he thinks his message was received by those in the audience. "I've had at least two people say that it was meaningful to them."
And while that was nice for him, he said that the most important thing that night happened when one woman rededicated her life to her faith during the message.
"It was especially meaningful to her," he said. "Lately she was robbed from her joy and her peace."
Joy and peace - something we all could use a little more of from time to time.
Children's church activities are made available to parents most nights of the event and most services last around an hour. For more information about the event call 665-6340.