Something for everyone at Seventh-day Adventist Church block party
Jessica Ballard, 16, of Hagerstown, hugs Jolene Thomas of Hagerstown after being dunked in the dunk tank Sunday during the block party at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown. (By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer / August 19, 2012)
Inviting the public to the block party, which marked its fifth year Sunday, has allowed people to become aware of regular events at the church, like an annual concert series that features performances ranging from choirs to classical music, Holland said.
Dozens of people flowed onto the grounds of the church at 11507 Robinwood Drive as the 4 p.m. party got under way. The event offered activities for children, including face painting and an inflatable obstacle course, while adults could take advantage of offerings like hand massages.
The church started the event to introduce the community to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Holland came from the Chicago area about five years ago and at the time, he said he wanted to create an environment at the church where people could feel free to ask questions about religion in a “nonthreatening environment.”
Holland said Sunday that another reason he thinks it is important to offer the block party is because local churches often end up being “commuter churches.” That means people travel into an area to attend a church but might not be familiar with neighbors in the church’s community.
There are residential areas surrounding the local Seventh-day Adventist Church, and offering the free party gives a chance for church members and neighbors to mingle, Holland said.
“These apartments are full of children,” said Holland, motioning to an area behind the church along Kings Crest Boulevard.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is an American-born religion that from its outset has focused on healthful lifestyles as part of its understanding of Scripture.
Edna Myers was one of two women offering hand massages under a shade tent in the church’s parking lot. Participants sat at a table with the women, who gently spread lotion on their hands.
Myers said the massage is a relaxing experience that can relieve headaches or arthritis. It can also relieve stress because people will often talk about issues they are experiencing, she said. Myers said people often are more likely to talk to strangers about things going on in their lives than to people they know.
“Just the gentle touch of another person” is enough to work wonders with someone, Myers said.
At another station, Candace Byrd and another woman were making smoothies. One type was made with spinach, mint, pineapple and apple juice, and another was made with bananas, peanut butter, rice milk and cocoa powder.
A good diet has been a mainstay of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and in October, the church plans to offer the Hope Cafe, which will offer tips on how to eat healthfully and also will offer cooking schools, church officials said.
Hope Cafe will be open to the public, Byrd said.