‘Gospel on the GO Party’

As the dog days of summer are winding down and children are heading back to school, one last hurrah is planned for Sunday.

The Celebration Center of Marietta is hosting a “Gospel on the GO Party” for children of all ages, beginning at 1 p.m. in East Muskingum Park near the gazebo. Church services will also be held prior to the party at 10 a.m. and are open to the public.

“We have been doing this at the park for several years,” said Peggy Deer, church administrator and GO Party organizer. “GO stands for the Great Commandment – ‘Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel.'”

Four mini-GO Parties were held recently in area playgrounds as an alternative to traditional Vacation Bible School. Families were invited to attend events at the church playground on Front Street, Flanders Field in Harmar and at both the Ridgewood Court and Colonial Terrace apartment complexes.

“The pastor (Gordie Deer) wanted to hold Vacation Bible School at the church but we decided instead to go out into the community for just one night,” Deer said. “We got a very good turnout all four nights.”

Sandy Weckbacher, manager of Ridgewood Court Apartments, said the event held there on Aug. 7 was successful and she would gladly have the church come back.

“They approached me about having one here and I am glad they came,” she said. “It wasn’t uncomfortable for anyone and the children really had fun. They are still talking about it, in fact, and asking me when (the church) is coming back.”

Church member Megan Keller, 27, of Marietta, attended the events with her children, ages 7 and 2, and said she was pleasantly surprised by the reception.

“They were really, really well attended and the kids loved it and the parents had fun as well,” she said. “It’s just good, clean, wholesome fun and there was no negativity that I saw … I would gladly take my kids to all their events.”

Following the church service on Sunday, children are invited to enjoy inflatables and a barrel train, which was built by the church, as well as popcorn and snow cones and music.

“We will also be promoting the gospel at the GO Party and offering ministry to the public,” Deer said.

The Celebration Center will also be handing out school supplies to the first 144 children to register, as well as awarding four $50 gift cards and 12 backpacks. Folders, notebooks, pencils and crayons are just some of the supplies that will be given out.

“The congregation financially supports the project and we have reached out to the community for donations as well,” Deer said.

Keller, who also volunteers with the events in different capacities, said that the Deers spearhead the event but it really is a group effort.

“It really is a good group of people,” she said.

Other churches are also giving back to the community in this time right before the start of school. Pat Hanf with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Marietta said that 166 backpacks will be given out on Monday and Tuesday to students who are already pre-qualified through Community Action.

“We are giving away to students in Marietta City Schools and Ewing School and for grades K through five, we are custom packing using lists that are given to us,” Hanf said.

This is an annual giveaway and parents and students who have already been qualified to receive one of the backpacks should visit the church Monday between 5 and 7 p.m. and Tuesday between 10 a.m. and noon.