The congregation at North Hill Baptist Church in Minot throws a pretty good party, according to the four young ladies who were enjoying snow cones and an inflatable jump castle Saturday afternoon.
"I like it," said Zoe Zaderaka, giving the thumbs up. Zaderaka, whose father is a pastor, learned about the block party and came with her young teen and preteen friends Skylar Picconatto, Caitlin Smith and Logynne Haitz.
This was the first-ever community block party for the North Hill church.
A block party visitor plays a lawn game while Minot Police draw people to their stand at the event at North Hill Baptist Church Saturday.
"There's a two-fold purpose," the Rev. Dan Andrus said "One is first to let the community know we are here. We are here to help, to be of assistance, to be a good neighbor. The other is to share the Gospel and, if you want to put a third one in, just to have fun.
"We are not here to pad the pews of North Hill necessarily. We are here to spread the Gospel," he added. "It's a venue where folks will come and be part of it and it's not 'church.' We just want to make people comfortable and let them know we love them, Jesus loves them."
The church spread the message through music and while handing out hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones, cotton candy and prizes such as gift certificates for hair cuts and oil changes. Grand prizes included a night at the Grand International, MP3 players, a filled school backpack and an electric scooter.
North Hill also received support from other local churches. River of Life Assembly of God provided the inflatables. First Assembly of God provided a tent. Members of Minot Christian Fellowship helped on the ground.
Although developed as a way to reach out to the neighborhood, the event was open to the Minot community, and the church welcomed people from across town who heard about the party and decided to drop in.
Watching his 2-year-old daughter enjoy the inflatables, Elijah Laboy said he brought his family at the encouragement of his father, Charles Laboy, an officer with the Minot Police Department. Minot Police participated with a booth.
"It's nice to get out and visit with the people of the community just to get to know them and them to get to know us," Charles Laboy said. "It's not always about us arresting people. We are people just like everyone else."
The weather for the event cooperated for the most part. A rain shower in the early afternoon forced everyone under the tent, but the location behind the church was shielded from much of Saturday's wind. Overall, it wasn't a bad day for a party, and Andrus said the church was pleased with turnout for the first-time event.