San Marcos church hosted a Fun Festival for local church and community members last fall. The event was coordinated by Manna Mesa, the church community outreach ministry, in partnership with the Hispanic Ministry and Family Ministry Departments.
At least 150 families and more than 200 children attended the outdoor event, which featured lawn games, children’s arts and crafts, and face painting and served international vegetarian dishes from Mexico and the Philippines, as well as traditional American food.
The festival was organized to illustrate to San Marcos community members that community service, relationship building, and evangelistic outreach are not separate activities from the church.
“Community and church are inextricably intertwined,” said Vadim Dementyev, pastor of the San Marcos church and festival planner. “After the harsh months of social distancing, we wanted everyone to gather safely outdoors to have some fun—hence Fun Festival!”
After partnering to brainstorm ways to get involved in the community, church and Manna Mesa ministry members had the idea to host an event specifically designed to build local connections. With the support of the entire San Marcos church, the idea of an outdoor event was born.
The Manna Mesa outreach ministry has provided vital support to the surrounding community by organizing food distribution. Manna Mesa is a major partner of Feeding America in North San Diego County and has been awarded “super pantry status” for its outstanding service and sizable program.
The ministry provides food for more than 400 households in addition to serving as a hub for community services with Escondido Spanish and Valley Center Seventh-day Adventist churches, bringing the weekly total for families served to more than 800.
During the most challenging months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manna Mesa continued to serve the community and helped build close relationships with the surrounding church neighbors. The Fun Festival created an opportunity for Manna Mesa members to interact more closely with the community with whom they had already built ties.
“The best feedback we received about our event was in the form of the many smiles and words of gratitude by community members,” said Dementyev. “We also recruited a few volunteers from the community to join the Manna Mesa ministry.”
Plans for another Fun Festival are underway. For San Marcos church members, the goal is to inspire others to seek avenues for community experiences in their own zip codes—no matter how small or large their churches might be.
“This wasn’t an isolated occurrence but rather an activity that organically emerged from the life and ministry of the church,” said Dementyev. “We see our future as developing and fostering relationships with our neighbors, with an emphasis on embodying the kingdom of God and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”
By Danni Thaw