Graham Emmanuel Baptist Church has put its own spin on “free family fun.”
The three-word tag line for Graham Jam, which had its seventh annual rendition July 13 at Frontier Park, describes the way the church believes in reaching out to the public and sharing “the love of Jesus.”
The origins of Graham Emmanuel Baptist date to the early 1980s. Graham Jam has a more recent lineage. It was started in 2007 “as a way to bless our community by putting on a festival in the park that would be very accessible to the families in our community,” said senior pastor Jim Tiefenthaler.
There’s a big emphasis on fun, with live music that Tiefenthaler said families can “hang out and listen to,” inflatables and other games and activities for kids from noon to 6 p.m.. This year, a fishing pond that had been a kid favorite at previous Jams was replaced with a climbing wall. “It was well-received and was busy with climbers all day,” Tiefenthaler said. Families could also partake of inexpensive food and lay out a picnic blanket as part of the festivities.
The church covers all the costs of the event. The motivation is simply “to bless our community,” Tiefenthaler said.
For the fourth year in a row, The Power Team shared its feats of strength and evangelistic messages that include testimonies and music. The group’s strongman members break bricks and baseball bats with their forearms and heads and bend steel while ministering to children and adults. Crowds topping 1,000 have witnessed the performances, and. “we hope more people come next year. They’ll be glad they came,” said Kevin Huff, one of the event organizers.
Starting in 2009, Graham Jam has included a Sunday morning service at Frontier Park, with The Power Team on hand again for more of its muscular ministering.
“I love the entire Graham Jam weekend,” said worship pastor Jay Schilling. “It’s my favorite weekend of the year. It’s a time for us as a church to share the love of Jesus with our community in a fun way. We love it when people leave saying they can’t believe how much fun they’ve had. I believe we’re connecting with the community, and that’s our goal.”