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Cross-culture holiday community outreach

Local church offers bilingual event

Posted: December 8, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Three boys look at the pile of gifts in anticipation wondering what they will get at last year's Festividad for Christ event.

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For the past seven years, Faith Community Church volunteers have come together to host an annual event known as “Festividad for Christ,” an outreach event benefiting the surrounding community of Newhall.

The event, titled after the Spanish word meaning festivity or celebration, is a community outreach event held once a year at Christmastime to offer food, toys and turkeys to the families in the community that may need help around the holidays.

Bridging language barriers

The church hopes it will help reach out to the local Spanish-speaking community surrounding their Newhall church campus. Faith Community began hosting church services last year held completely in Spanish. The services are hosted by Spanish-speaking volunteers and are offered every Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m.

“We are simply trying to bless the neighborhood,” said event coordinator and Care Ministry Director Dave Gabriel. “We want to be a joy to the neighborhood by giving them a great celebration.”

The church services, much like Festividad, is another way Faith Community is trying to be a good neighbor by showing the love of Christ to the largely Hispanic population in and around Newhall. The event, which is predominantly attended by the Hispanic community, requires numerous bilingual volunteers. Many high school Spanish clubs also volunteer to help bridge the language gap between many of the attendees and volunteers.

“We had some language barriers in the beginning,” said Senior Pastor Steve Jackson. “Now we have more to offer them as a church community. We want to introduce them to the Faith Community family and make meaningful connections with them.”

“We need a lot of Spanish speaker for this event,” said Gabriel. “We don’t want to just serve them lunch. We want to sit down with them and get to know them, a lot of that needs to be in Spanish.”

Serving joy

Festividad is free and offers local members of the community a carne asada lunch, Christmas gifts for children ages 8 to 13 years old, frozen turkeys for the holidays, a free clothing give away and live musical performances in English and Spanish. This year, Faith Community is also featuring a surprise treat for attending children.

“This is one of the more joyous occasions we hold,” said Jackson. “It gives us a way to share what Christ has done in our lives.”

Approximately 1,000 people attend Festividad each year. More than 100 volunteers are needed to hold the event, along with countless donations of toys and clothing for children and families. Volunteers began canvasing neighborhoods this week, passing out more than 5,000 invitations for the event.

“This event comes from our desire to let the neighborhood know we love them and are here to serve them,” said Jackson. “We really want to demonstrate the love of Christ.”

Festividad for Christ will be held Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Faith Community Church, located at 24620 Meadowridge Drive, Santa Clarita.



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