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  • Tri-Community churches celebrate unity

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  • Members of nine different churches in the Phelan-Pinon Hills-Wrightwood area gathered for a “Picnic in the Park” on July 12.
    The event, which celebrated unity in the community, was hosted by the Mojave West chapter of Aglow International and was held at High Desert Baptist Church in Phelan. There were door prizes and drawings, and more than 500 waters and 600 hot dogs were consumed by the large crowd in attendance.
    Nancy Santiago, President of Aglow International in Phelan, said she had a “vision” from God during a Sunday service that inspired her to move forward with planning the event.
    “This was a vision I saw; I initially thought a picnic was not doable. A year ago, our pastor passed away and as a result, our community was hit hard,” Santiago said. “But, when I presented it to my current pastors, they gave it the go-ahead.”
    Not all churches in the area accepted the invitation, and the nine that did show up differed in traditions and Bible-teaching styles, but they came together to share a common spiritual theme: Jesus Christ.
    Knights of Columbus member Keith Cunningham of Blessed Juniper Serra Catholic Church in Phelan said it was refreshing and overdue to see most of the local congregations come together.
    “It gave everyone a chance not to be strangers anymore. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ,” Cunningham said. “We are a small community, and in a way we have to work together to be more efficient. That allows us to help out a greater number of people.”
    Several awnings sheltered most of the event, but the high temperatures put some churchgoers to the test.
    “The only complaint was the desert heat,” Santiago said.
    One pastor from each church was given 10 minutes to speak about their church and activities. Once at the pulpit, each pastor spoke but did not preach. Instead, they each talked about how they can help members of the community who need assistance, both spiritually and physically.
    “I think this was a long time coming. Some churches have things that they do better than others. St. Vincent de Paul is better at helping a large group of people with food and clothing. Set Free Church is amazing at helping those through rough times, such as jail, drugs, and alcohol. They have a good track record with changing and saving lives,” Cunningham said.
    On the stage, different bands played music from their respective Sunday services.
    “They played all different styles. The Hispanic group from the Catholic church played Mariachi music, one church played rock and roll style Christian music, we had a classical guitarist and traditional, and there even was country rock Christian music,” Santiago said.
    “Basically this was a great idea and should be done every year. But everyone should keep it moving every day. The yearly thing can be more of a celebration of a year’s hard work,” Cunningham said.
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