Celebration Team helps lead Revival Weekend

Published 7:20 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Penn Friends' Celebration Team was invited to lead worship, five songs and an altar call during a Friday evening service at Federated Covenant Church's weekend revival Oct. 24-26 at 202 Center St., Dowagiac.
Victory Tabernacle led worship on the other two evenings.
The Celebration Team from Penn Friends Community Church, corner of Penn and Quaker streets, Cassopolis, felt God's leading and presence in this, their first experience at leading worship at another church.
The group consists of members of the Worship Team at Penn and a Small Home Group formed by the leader of the group, Colleen Allen.
"I guess you could say that our group would enjoy coming to any church to lead worship," Allen said.
"We believe that God is calling us to lead people into His presence through worship so that all men may have an encounter with Almighty God."
Elaine Bayles of Federated Church said Penn's worship team gave them great hope for having such a team for their church.
"I enjoyed hearing them," she said. "It's something we've looked at for our church. We're so short on young people, we felt we couldn't have a band from within our church, that we'd have to hire some people from outside the church.
"It surprised me that both bands had some older members. It was really neat. I don't know if our members play instruments, but now I know the possibility is greater to have one. We started one a while ago, which didn't work out." This was Federated Covenant's first revival, as well.
It was an entirely new experience for the church to hold a revival, but they wanted to make a change.
"It's not our tradition," said Interim Pastor Beth Ernest in a phone interview, "but we wanted to become more visible in our community and let the people know that we really care about Dowagiac."
One of the biggest purposes was to reach out to their neighbors and pray for people who had lost jobs and had other worries.
Pastor Beth said, "On Sunday night, nine pastors from area churches came forward and prayed for their people. People raised their hands in prayer and it was wonderful.
"We learned a lot just putting it together. How to reach our neighbors? How to do a large event? How to stretch ourselves, and how to work cooperatively with other churches."
"It is a high bar to jump, for non-believers to walk into your church. We found that people who came were people from other churches," Pastor Beth continued. "We were hoping for non-Christians, and had Discipleship Teams ready and prepared for that. But it did not happen."
But Pastor Beth is energized and hopeful.
"We are a church that is coming back to life," she said. "We are going to get out and do things. The pastors came up to us afterwards and asked, 'What's next?' And we're thinking of an integrated-church Christmas carol event."
Federated Covenant is also thinking of doing light-bulb changes for the elderly in the community.
In the past, the church conducted "Oil Changes for Single Moms."
For more information on Penn Friends Celebration Team call 445-8546.
For more information on Federated Covenant Church call 782-5656.