by Cindy Clark
“What are we here for?” That was the focus of the Pike Grace Brethren Church, Johnstown, Pa., as they emphasized spiritual growth during a study centered around the book 40 Days of Community. Approximately 150 individuals from the congregation and others from outside the church joined in small groups to look at the topic.
Through a series of videos, each group was challenged to think big. They were asked to consider an outreach that would be so big that only God could do it. In a group led by Ed Loscar, it was proposed that they plant a church in downtown Johnstown. Everybody came alive.
The church already had some experience working with children in the inner city. Last summer, they joined with the Johnstown Grace Brethren Church to organize a Fiesta Bible School for the children there. (See FGBC World, September-October 2006). That outreach was such a success that it was decided to try it again.
That was the spark that Ed’s small group wanted. They decided that the holidays were the perfect time to go back to Johnstown’s inner city for a Christmas Fiesta!
The group faced some of the same hurdles they encountered when planning the summer program. One was finding a building that would be large enough to hold the event. Several options were investigated but then God began to work. The Christian ministry, New Day, Inc. opened its doors to the church. (This ministry had refused the requests of other churches to use the building but said yes to Pike because of the local children’s excitement over last summer’s Fiesta.) New Day understood that our desire was to share Jesus, so their building was opened for use — free of charge!
As evidence of God at work became apparent, enthusiasm grew. How could all that was being planned be accomplished by one small group? After all, a Christmas Fiesta must include a fun party with games, crafts, pi