, Derry, New Hampshire

August 8, 2013

Area churches host community block party event

Churches host free day of fun for families

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Lifeway Church will join with other local congregations to host the eighth annual block party at MacGregor Park on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a community event that draws hundreds of families for a day of free fun.

This is the first year a collective group of churches has hosted the party, under the banner of “ONE” or Outreach New England.

“It’s going to be even bigger,” Lifeway’s Summer Tremblay said.

She said the party is a way for churches to give back to the community, offer family events free of charge, and also help those needing support.

he day includes food, games, music and the annual backpack distribution to help students prepare for the opening day of school.

In past years, upward of 1,000 backpacks were given away.

This year, organizers hope to distribute 600 backpacks at the party. They also will offer clothing and personal items for those in need.

Lifeway started the block party eight years ago. The church has been in Derry for many years, meeting regularly at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.

Pastor Juan Saa has led the church since 2004. He said the block party helps LifeWay spread its message of good news about faith and hope.

“For eight years in a row, close to 6,000 different people have attended the block party,” he said. “It has become an icon of hope to our town, where families of all socio-economical backgrounds and races are able to experience Christian kindness, safe recreation, great food, community bonding and prayer.”

He said the block party is also a way to help keep families together for a day celebrating community spirit.

Other churches involved include Calvary Bible Church, First Baptist Church, Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, Abundant Grace, North Ridge Church, Granite United, the Salvation Army and Bethany Church.

Saa said on any given Sunday about 250 to 300 people may come to worship at Lifeway. He said the service is diverse, upbeat, contemporary, but with a traditional message about God’s love. That message continues to bring in new faces, along with the faithful who come out every week.

The block party costs about $14,000 to put on, but parishioners and other donors provide so the day is completely free for those attending.

Children will be able to take home a backpack from the block party, filled with school supplies.

For Saa, it is a way to help keep families together and hopeful during tough times.

Tremblay said the party is bigger and better every year.

“It’s just been a blessing every year,” she said.

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