HARKER HEIGHTS — Saturday was cold and windy outside but warm and festive inside the First Baptist Church of Harker Heights thanks to Christmas carols and the laughter of 30 children playing games while their parents enjoyed nachos and hot dogs.

The free party was hosted by the church as part of its community outreach program, said church moderator Mark Weaver.

“We have been here for 50 years and we wanted to reach out to the community to let them know that we are here for them,” he said. “We have a food pantry, a homeless outreach luncheon once a month here, and even though we are a small congregation, there is a lot more that we want to do here.”

New Harker Heights residents Angel Godderz, Rayanne Drebis and her son, Michael Woodard, 7, attended the party after receiving a flier when they stopped by the food pantry earlier this week.

“I think it’s really cool that the church is doing this today and we will definitely be coming back to visit this church because everyone seems like they are nice and welcoming,” Drebis said.

Face painting, a cake walk and different games of chance were available to party-goers like Harker Heights resident Elizabeth Force, 17.

“I like the ring toss game. I haven’t won but I’ll keep trying,” Force said.

The day’s grand finale was an illusion and juggling act by Don Lentz, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Temple.

“I try to include Christ in my program and do some teaching while I put on my program,” Lentz said.

First Baptist Church member Jennifer Tack echoed his sentiment, saying her favorite part of the event was sharing Christ with the community in a fun, positive way.

“It’s not all about the solemnness or hellfire and brimstone,” she said. “It’s actually about community and fellowship. Church is a joyous occasion.”

Herald/ Kathryn Leisinger

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