WALKER – Organizers of an annual tradition at Sidney Hutchinson Park added a new twist to the event.

Christ Community Church, the host of the annual egg-stravaganza, reached out to other churches to take the event to another level.

In turn, the event brought together not only different churches, but different ethnic groups who rejoiced and reveled in the festivities for the first annual United in Christ Community Easter Egg Hunt.

“We had the visions to get a lot of churches together to reach out to an entire community,” said the Rev. Willis Easley, pastor of Christ Community Church. “In the Bible, Jesus said ‘They’ll know you’re my disciples by the love you have for one another.’

“Too often, people see churches in competition, but we’re not – we’re united in Christ to present a united church to our community,” he said.

Other churches involved in the event included The Way, Live Oak Baptist Church, Northside Baptist Church and St. Mark Baptist Church, among others.

The event drew approximately 2,000 to the park for worship, food, games, face-painting, music and, of course, an Easter Egg hunt. Helicopters dropped more than 10,000 plastic eggs on to the grounds for the competition in each age group.

The Way Church, which joined in the festivities for the first time, had used a chopper in its own annual Easter egg hunt prior to the united event.

“We used a smaller helicopter this year, but the pilot volunteered his service and all we had to pay for was the fuel,” said Jordan Vaughn, youth pastor for The Way.

The united event marked just the type of gathering he wanted to see In Livingston Parish.

“It’s one hundred percent more diverse,” Vaughn said. “We had a community broken by a flood, and during that kind of tragedy we had to come to realize that this disaster did not discriminate and it knew no color.”

Vaughn and other organizers from the participating churches worked two months to devise a way to bring more people together, regardless of their ethnicity.

“My wife and I lived in Dallas a year, and what we noticed when we came back after a year was that the Body of Christ doesn’t look as beautiful as it’s supposed to be, and it doesn’t look as diverse culturally and racially as it should be,” Vaughn said. “This is what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like – not one color, not one type – and it’s the way we’re supposed to be represented.”

The Rev. Gregory Coates, a longtime friend of Easley, also believes it took a disaster to awaken the populations.

“It’s awesome, and I was so excited to see so many people come together, share the love, different churches and different races, all enjoying themselves,” Coates said. “It doesn’t get much better than this unless you’re in Heaven.”

Karen Thomas of St. Mark Baptist Church felt the time had come for all communities to come together, particularly after the flood.

“When you’ve all had to suffer through the same hardship, you realize it’s time to walk in fellowship with one another,” she said. “It was beautiful to see us laugh, play and embrace – and it was long overdue.

“But I wouldn’t say it was the flood that brought us together – it was Jesus,” Thomas said.

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John Dupont is a reporter at The Livingston Parish News. He can be reached at johnorydupont@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @dupont_john.

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