“. where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
- 2 Corinthians 3:17
Several area churches are looking to Independence Day as a way of honoring America's spiritual as well as political freedom.
“Our intent is to share with people that the message of the Bible is a freedom message,” said the Rev. Tony D. Scott, pastor of Cathedral of Praise Church of God in Sylvania.
The West Alexis Road church will host its annual “Freedom Celebration” from noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow, with events including hot-air balloon rides, rock climbing, sand volleyball, pony rides, and music by top national Christian artists Tree63 and Phil Driscoll.
Tree63, a modern-rock trio from South Africa that recently won its first Dove Award, topped the Christian charts with its first single, “Treasure,” and recently scored another hit with “Look What You've Done.”
Driscoll is a Grammy-winning jazz-pop trumpeter who will perform a number of patriotic tunes in concert tomorrow. Also performing will be the groups Haven and Breaking the Mold.
Admission to Freedom Celebration is free; visitors are urged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.
In South Toledo, Calvary Assembly of God on Glendale Avenue will hold its Third Annual “Firefall” celebration starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Activities will include a 21-gun salute and flag ceremony honoring military veterans, children's games, and prize giveaways.
In concert will be Sanctus Real, First Creation, Side by Side, and a combined church choir.
The Firefall celebration will conclude with a 29-minute fireworks show created by Alonzo Fireworks Display, Inc., which is choreographing the aerial artistry to be synchronized with the live music.
“I think that what the Statue of Liberty is to America, the cross is to Christians,” said the Rev. Doug Clay, Calvary's pastor. “And I really think they go hand in hand. Christians should be thankful not only to God but also to the men and women who fought to give us the freedoms we have.”
The grounds open at 5 p.m. and parking is available on the church grounds. About 3,000 people attended the first Firefall event in 1999, 7,500 attended last year, and about 10,000 are expected for tomorrow's event, said Mr. Clay. A $2 donation per person is suggested.
In Lima, Shawnee First Church of God is sponsoring its first “Shawneestock,” which will include live music by six regional Christian bands. There also will be a large number of inflatable games and youth activities, said Jim Klausing, the church's youth pastor.
The event starts at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow and admission is free. Music will be performed by Broken Yoke, Spark, Featherweight, Crossland, Fortress, and Holy Cow. Activities include a Velcro wall, pole jousting, and bouncy boxing.
The church is about a quarter-mile from Shawnee High School, where community fireworks will be launched at 10 p.m. Shawneestock seemed like a logical idea because so many people were parking at the church to see the pyrotechnics, Mr. Klausing said.
A number of area churches are planning patriotic services tomorrow, including First Baptist Church in Temperance, Mich., where the 10:15 a.m. service will have the theme of “God Bless the U.S.A.” Scheduled are patriotic music, a color guard, and recognition of military veterans.
- DAVID YONKE