BROOKSVILLE — When Mark Reeves, the new minister of worship at First Baptist Church, was asked what he planned to do at the church for Easter, his answer surprised some members of the congregation.
"The church has had a tradition of doing fairly large musical events at Easter," Reeves said. "There's nothing wrong with that at all. But as I began to think and pray about it, I asked what we could do as a church to minister to the community."
Reeves, who is new to the community, had been hearing about organizations — such as Love Your Neighbor and Jericho Road Ministries — that minister to the homeless and the needy. He learned that the numbers of homeless in Brooksville can range from dozens to several hundred.
"That is pretty staggering when you consider this is a (small) town," he said.
Reeves found that several churches were involved in helping those in need, especially in these difficult economic times.
"I thought, 'Man, wouldn't it be great to have an event where we could actually pull all of this together and create an awareness within the secular community as well as the church community of just what's going on behind the scenes in Brooksville to help the homeless and the needy?' "
With the help of some faith-based organizations and churches, and the promise of help from others, Reeves and a group of organizers have been making plans for the first Brooksville Community Springfest, which will be in downtown Brooksville from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 18.
"The vision behind this was to see the Christian community come together outside of the church walls in this joint venture," Reeves said.
The event will raise funds for those in need, while distributing information and promotional materials about organizations that can help.
The main elements of the Springfest include the already-existing Market on Main Street, the Brooksville Farmer's Market and the flea market at the Brooksville American Legion.
In addition, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be music in Hernando Park featuring the local Christian band Anzil, the St. Anthony Bell Choir, the Hernando Youth Orchestra, the Springfest Mass Gospel Choir, Geezer Jam and the Spring Hill Acoustic Guitar Club.
"We're also going to have a block where we're setting up a Cookbook Festival with a bake sale and maybe a chili cook-off," Reeves said.
Events in the park for children will include face painting and puppet shows.
Across from the park there will be a line of information booths and tables for churches and nonprofit organizations that want the community to have information about what they do.
"At A New Generation counseling center, we're going to have a couple of prayer rooms," Reeves said, "so there actually will be on-the-street ministry if people would like to stop in just for prayer."
Reeves hopes that the event will cross denominational lines and that church people will get involved by donating items or renting $10 booths at the flea markets.
He also needs more singers for the gospel choir and hopes they will come to the rehearsals this week, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Friday.
"People can volunteer their time at the American Legion or work at the flea market, peddle their wares or be available to pray with individuals," Reeves said.
As a flier for the event states, they can "donate, vend or come and spend!"
The profits from Springfest will be donated to Love Your Neighbor, a nonprofit organization led by John and Lisa Callea that gives aid to those who have fallen on hard times.
"They have provided the lion's share of the impetus for this, so I felt it would be a great organization to springboard off of," Reeves said. "If the Springfest becomes an annual event, we'll highlight a different nonprofit each year."
Reeves is happy with the way plans are coming together for the post-Easter event.
"I believe it's where the heartbeat of God is now for our community," he said. "I can think of no better time of the year than when we celebrate Christ's resurrection, and the fact that he was raised from the dead to give hope and bring life to mankind, than to celebrate that by engaging in this kind of an event where we're ministering to the community."