MICHIGAN CITY – With a focus on faith, fellowship and fun, Temple Missionary Baptist Church decided to try something new this fall – its inaugural Bible Harvest Fest.

“The Bible Harvest Fest was our first attempt at having a fall time celebration/fun day that didn’t simply feel like a Halloween substitute, and it didn’t disappoint," Pastor Brian Parker said of the Nov. 16 event. "We really honed in on a Christ-centered theme. I think we’ve found the model we want to use going forward."

The fun began with snacks and carnival-style games such as a sucker pull and ring toss. Guests guessed how many pieces of candy were in jars, decorated autumn cookies, and posed in a fall-themed photo booth.

Next on the agenda was a Family Feud-style game with several rounds of contestants chosen from each side of the sanctuary.

The church had sent out a questionnaire weeks before through Facebook with such questions as “If it were up to you, which animal would you have thrown off the ark?” (Top answer: mosquitos), “What Side Dish Would You Have Wanted When Jesus Fed The 5,000?” (Top answer: mac & cheese), and “Most Common Reason For Missing Church”: (Top answer: sick). There were more than 100 responses.

“I was looking forward to the Bible Harvest Fest and it was so much fun,” said Michelle Weissert, a member of Chesterton Southern Baptist Church who attended with her husband, Paul Weissert, and daughter, Kaitlyn Weissert.

“To be together with other brothers and sisters in Christ on a Saturday afternoon and worship and praise God was amazing. We met new people and to be so involved with the activities with them was great. I personally loved the Family Feud game. We laughed so much. It was such a nice blessing of a day.”

Member Matt Ewing also enjoyed the fellowship-building activity.

“I had a truly wonderful time," he said. "My favorite part, besides the preaching, was the group Family Feud. It was awesome because everyone got to participate and we had a great time listening to some of the answers. I look forward to next year’s event and hope more of our community comes and shares in the joy and excitement.”

In addition, the planning committee decided to try out a pie-baking contest. The church has held chili and chicken casserole cook-offs in the past. Tammy Sage's butterscotch pie was the winner.

“The pie contest was a challenge for me because I have never made butterscotch pie before,” she said. “I found the recipe on Pinterest and my inspiration was my friend, Sue Keller, who bought one when we were in Nappanee for her birthday.”

After time allotted for snacks and new games, those in attendance came together to hear a sermon by Eddie Heavner, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in La Porte, whose wife, Dawn Heavner, joined him.

Titled “The One That God Can Use,” Heavner’s message was based on James 1:8 and outlined the importance of “Settled Priorities,” “Steadfast Prayer” and “Shining Purity.”

“The value of special meetings like this confirm and establish what Christ was all about – having relationships with not only him but also with each other,” Heavner said.

“So many are lonely and discouraged at this time of year that meetings like this one are very strengthening to individuals. It’s Christ working through us – not necessarily us working for Christ — that brings the power of God into our lives. I chose this topic because my desire is that Christ would work through me in ministering to the needs of others.”

At the end of the event, all kids from 12th grade and under received a large bag of candy to take home.

Sage, who helped out by manning a game station, said she enjoyed “watching the children play games and how they all got along with each other.”

“It took all of us in the church to make the Bible Harvest Fest successful, and we gladly did if for God’s glory,” she said.

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