Friday, August 4, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Last Saturday, around 500 people gathered on the 400 block of Bohland Avenue in Bellwood for a grand block party that included games of basketball, free food, live music, a bounce house, 10 vendors from area organizations and pony rides, among other features.
Bishop Pam Lawrence, the pastor of God’s House of Brotherly Love (which hosted the gathering) and the founder of MECA Elementary Christian School in Bellwood, said that the event — formerly called the Brotherly Love Experience Community Picnic — was started 18 years ago by her late husband, Bishop Gladius Lawrence.
Children play during last Saturday’s fest, hosted by God’s House of Brotherly Love in Bellwood. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP
“It started with my husband’s vision. We wanted to keep to keep it alive for him,” she said. “At first, we thought he was crazy. He bought a tent and all summer long we had church outside. Every summer we gave out hot dogs to the community and had church.”
Lawrence said that the annual gathering has evolved and grown larger with each successive year. This year, the July 29 festival attracted so many people, she said, that organizers ran out of food — a sign that the people are responding to the pull of the church’s display of affection.
Bishop Pam Lawrence, the pastor of God’s House of Brotherly Love in Bellwood, says that area residents have come to anticipate the annual day-long festival. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP
“When you do something like this it really helps out the neighborhood,” Lawrence said. “People now look forward to this. It’s become more than a church function. It’s turned into something phenomenal.
A young child stands near a stable of furry companions during last Saturday’s Brotherly Love Experience Community Fest. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP
“We even had neighbors who live in the area drop off donations of water, food and money. One person came out and gave us $50 just to help the cause. They feel proud that we’re doing something like this in their neighborhood.” VFP