Block party!: Three churches team up to hold a block party to celebrate life and community | TheUnion.com

Block party!: Three churches team up to hold a block party to celebrate life and community

In a show of unity, the three churches that line the corner of South Church and Walsh streets will hold a festive block party on Sunday.

Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, Grass Valley United Methodist, and Emanuel Episcopalian churches are hosting a celebration to which the whole community is invited.

The idea came to Emmanuel Episcopalian pastor Reverend Seth Kellerman while he and his family were enjoying sabbatical in Mexico.

"In Mexico, a lot of vendors and people hang out outside the churches," said Kellerman. "Instead of the church doing its own coffee time or fellowship hour, the corn guy will be outside. Or the fried chips guy. You buy your stuff and sit and talk to your friends and socialize. And I thought, how cool would that be to do our version of it?"

Making the idea a reality

The idea quickly grew into a collaboration with Kellerman's neighboring churches. Kellerman enlisted the help of United Methodist pastor Becky Goodwin and Reverend Kevin Tarsa of Unitarian Univeralist to help make his vision a reality. The two immediately jumped on board.

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About a quarter of a block of South Church St., from the corner of Walsh St., will be closed during the event which takes place 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

"The city was very supportive when applied for our permit to block off the street," Kellerman said. "They told us they want more things like this to happen."

Food trucks such as Lazy Dog, Horn of the Bull, Honest Pie, and others will be offering their delights and a bounce house, live bluegrass music, and a scavenger hunt will provide entertainment. The event will be family-friendly and will be non-alcoholic.

"It's really important for us to try to — as much as we can — find things that can bind us together as individual congregations and also as neighbors and members of the community," Kellerman said.

The churches — who enjoy a friendly relationship with one another — are hopeful that the block party will become a regular event. The churches' leaders agree that the purpose of the block party is ultimately to set any differences aside, if only for a day.

"For many years, Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains has had a tradition of holding its own outdoor service in a park this time of year," said the church's minister Kevin Tarsa. "I love that this interfaith block party offers a playful chance to model some of the bridge building we long to see in our nation."

"We want to unite," said United Methodist's pastor Becky Goodwin. "I call it going higher. Reaching higher than political divisions, dualistic kinds of thinking, going for something greater. That's what unifies us is that greater good: God. The power of Christ is bigger."

Celebrating life

Goodwin wants the community to know the block party is a chance to celebrate life, especially in times when elections are looming and disagreements are plenty.

"In the midst of all that we celebrate something greater, which is the love of God," said Goodwin. "We call it the love of God and the grace of Jesus Christ. That is bigger and greater than all the things that divide us."

"There is a hope that transcends politics and the stock market and circumstances in life and health or sickness," said Kellerman. "There is a hope that transcends that and it is the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

"It's easy to find things to divide us. But what we really need as churches and individuals and Americans, is to find things that knit us together."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Interfaith Block Party (aka Food Truck Sunday) held by Emmanuel Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, and Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains

WHERE: The 200 block of South Church Street in Grass Valley

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

INFO: Visit http://www.emmanuelgv.org or call 530-273-7876 for more information

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