The Grace Brethren Church in Bellflower, California, and its pastor, Tom Hocking (pictured) are featured in this article in the Long Beach Telegram. Hocking is the incoming moderator for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
Churches keep Bellflower Easter alive
By Pamela Hale-Burns Staff Writer
BELLFLOWER – The economic crisis continues to affect lives, but there are people determined not to let it stop a beloved event like Bellflower’s Easter Egg hunt.
Jane Nishimoto, learning that limited funds had led the city of Bellflower to cancel several community events, including the annual egg hunt, decided to find a way to rescue the Easter weekend tradition.
“We’ve been trying to build a better relationship with the community as a church and this was a good opportunity to show them that we care about the kids in our community,” the Bellflower Brethren Church parishioner said. “So we wanted to provide them with a fun day and also provide them with the Easter message.”
Nishimoto went online and made phone calls, trying to find others to donate time and money for the egg hunt.
Her hard work has paid off, and the hunt starts at 10 a.m. today at Caruthers Park, 10500 Flora Vista St.
“I Googled churches in Bellflower and started calling, and most of the churches already work with Kingdom Causes,” she said.
Kingdom Causes is a nonprofit community mobilizing organization with a mission to be a catalyst that inspires, connects and mobilizes people for personal and community transformation.
“We worked through Kingdom Causes’ director and then we used those people to contact other people and to see if others would be willing to volunteer,” she said.
Ten churches and more than 150 volunteers agreed to donate and fill plastic Easter Eggs for the hunt.
After 29 years in the city of Bellflower, Pastor Tom Hocking of Bellflower Brethren says he has seen a major change in the past four or five years.
“I feel like the city has made some significant attempts to build a stronger sense of community, he said. “The city has sponsored these annual egg hunts as well as (other events throughout the year).”
“Because of the state of the economy,” he continued, “the city is no longer able to fund many of these events. Therefore, what will happen is a powerful statement to other civic groups and clubs about how nongovernmental organizations can `step into the breach.”‘
Although Nishimoto lives in Lakewood, as a member of Bellflower Brethren Church and a Bellflower schoolteacher her ties to the city are strong.
“Jane is both an inspiration and an encouragement to me because of her constant and consistent passion to be both a redemptive influence in our city and to encourage and motivate others to bless the city as well,” Hocking said.