ANDERSON — With 140 congregations in the Anderson area, there is great opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the various churches, said the Rev. Steve Gettinger of Whetstone Church.

“One of our temptations when we live with this kind of diversity is for Christians to focus exclusively on the ministry of our own congregation,” Gettinger said. “While this should be the main focus for every church member, we all need the reminder that we are part of something bigger.”

A public reminder of that “something bigger” will be held at noon Saturday at Jackson Park, 22nd Street and Raible Avenue.

The seventh annual Free Picnic is sponsored by Mount Pilgrim Church and Christian Partners for Racial Reconciliation.

“We believe that God has planned to use the variety of congregations to do more than any one could do on its own,” Gettinger said. “Christian Partners for Reconciliation does not hope for all churches to be the same but that in our diversity we can demonstrate the underlying unity in the one God who created us.”

Activities include an egg toss, moon walk, sack race and a 3-on-3 basketball game, said one of the organizers, said the Rev. Tom Robinson of Mount Pilgrim Church.

Participants can eat free hot dogs, hamburgers, punch, chips, candy, snow cones and cotton candy. Visitors should bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.

Ten singing groups and dance teams will provide continuous entertainment. The entertainment schedule is: 12:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church; 1 p.m., Mount Pilgrim Angels of Glory; 1:30 p.m., Darrel Mason; 2:30 p.m., Mount Pilgrim King’s Daughter; 3 p.m., Friendship Stars; 3:30 p.m., United in Christ; 4 p.m., Eastside Church of God; 4:30 p.m., The McCreary Sisters; 5 p.m., Terre Haute Community Choir; 5:30 p.m., New Kingdom Builders.

Gettinger said, “Coming together for a picnic in the summer gives us the chance to rub shoulders with each other, to eat together, listen to each other’s music and play the same games.

There will be no politics or preaching, he said.

“The picnic is about fellowship and getting to know each other,” Gettinger added.

The picnic grew from a meeting in 1999 between white ministers and the Rev. M. Lewis Hunt, Robinson said. The white ministers were invited to be part of a service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

During that service, held at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in 2000, ministers agreed to form the Pastoral Covenant for Racial Reconciliation.

In April 2001, the Concerned Ministers and the Madison County Ministerial Alliance moved to a new level of Christian growth and development and jointly started a Good Friday Service, Robinson said.

From that a racial reconciliation movement began. At that time, Mount Pilgrim Church was sponsoring a community picnic that grew to include the community and the reconciliation movement.


If you go ...

Seventh annual free picnic

Presented by Mount Pilgrim Church and Christian Partners for Racial Reconciliation

Time: Noon Sunday

Where: Jackson Park, 22nd Street and Raible Avenue

Admission: Free with free hot dogs, hamburgers, punch, chips, candy, snow cones and cotton candy supplied