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Hillsville plans Christian Family Fun Day

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By Shaina Stockton

HILLSVILLE — For the past two years, the Christian Family Fun Day (CFFD) event in Hillsville has provided a safe and fun environment where everyone is welcome.

For some, the event — set to return for a third year on Sept. 20 — is a fun place to mingle with the community and enjoy the free games and entertainment. But for others, the experience is much more profound.

Amanda Dickerson, a former non-believer who attended last year’s event, says that CFFD opened the door for her to pursue her Christian beliefs and to become a member of the Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church. “It was pouring rain and I was wet and cold [at last year’s event], but it didn’t stop me from giving my heart to God,” she said in a testimony.

CFFD committee member Richard Edwards said that Dickerson had been helping with the event since it began in 2012. She first asked if she could walk her dog in the parade, even though she was a non-believer. When they said yes, she came back and asked if she could help hand out flyers.

Last year, while she was standing in the field, Edwards approached her and asked her why she felt that she couldn’t be a Christian.

“Because I don’t have a church,” she had replied.

A group prayer began as others gathered.

Dickerson has attended Hillsville Pentecostal since October 2013. On Aug. 17, she was baptized for the first time, and became a member of the church.

“I also get to help teach the 4- to 8-year-old kids every other Wednesday for Children’s Church,” Dickerson said. “And now my sister [who was also saved at CFFD in 2013], my mom, stepdad and nephew are all saved, baptized and members of the same church!”

According to Edwards, this is one of the many ways that the CFFD committee hopes to reach out to their community.

For one day each year, local churches have joined together to provide everything from their ministries to various forms of community service.

“It all started as a vision in 2012, with a post [on Facebook] about who might be interested in an event — a parade and a fun day — with the local churches coming together,” said Edwards. “There were others who shared that vision, so the Facebook post went crazy that week. We called a meeting and started with around 30 churches. And it grew from there.”

Through this event, churches have been given a unique opportunity to share themselves with the community in a new way. “It has been a way not to protest, but to show their ministries, their outreach and what they can do,” Edwards said. For example, a church can put its vans in the parade to show they are capable of providing transportation. Or, church volunteers can walk in the parade and hand out pamphlets for programs such as soup kitchens and clothing drives.

Churches can also use the day to mingle with and learn about other churches they can partner with during the rest of the year.

“So far, the parade has been a good size. We’ve had people come from all over the New River Valley, to all the way down in North Carolina to be a part of it,” said Edwards.

The event has continued to grow. Last year, the committee received packets from 75 churches that were interested in participating. “There are five states involved with this now: Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, all working on the event, advertising and participating,” said Edwards.

Both years, a crowd of around 3,000 turned out for the festivities.

The committee stresses that everyone, regardless of whether they are a Christian, is welcome to attend. “If people just come for the fellowship, that is fine,” he said. “Everyone will be given the same treatment. We want people to feel the love from the church, and from God.”

In short, Edwards says that the ministries will be shown by actions, as well as words. “God gives us a stage to set. Yes, we’re providing jump houses and all of those fun things, but it is important for churches to allow people to meet them… people who won’t walk through a church door, or people who may have been hurt by something at church and refuse to go back. They need to get to know these people so that next Sunday, they are sitting on the pew beside of them.”

Schedule

The 3rd Annual Christian Family Fun Day is slated for Sept. 20 at the Grover King VFW Post #1115 in Hillsville.

The event will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the 5K run lineup at the VFW parking lot. After a short ceremony, the run will begin at 8 a.m.

Parade participants will line up starting at 9 a.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m., and run from Hillsville Middle School to the VFW. This year’s parade is called “The Miracle in Me.” The name is a song by The Greenes, who will perform in the parade.

The grand marshal for the parade this year will be Pamela Caldwell. Those who wish to share testimonies about the miracles in their lives are invited to make a poster and fall in behind Caldwell during the parade.

At 11 a.m., the main event will begin on the VFW grounds. A short ceremony will kick off the event at the Turman log stage. From then until 5 p.m., guests will be treated to free food, games, music and other entertainment.

“Everything will be free, except for the T-shirts. But the entry fee, the parade, the 5K or the activities at the event, are no cost. All people have to do is show up,” Edwards said.

The event will be held rain or shine. In the event of rain, some activities will be moved to Carroll County High School, and the celebration will conclude at 4 p.m.

For more information, call (276) 733-5227, or find Carroll County Church Events on Facebook. Anyone interested in setting up a table can call Terry Smith at (276) 239-0593.