If you were driving on Collier Parkway last Saturday, you might have seen about 200 plastic pink flamingos, crows, cows and pigs on the lawn of Harvester United Methodist Church.
The lawn ornaments were an advertisement for the church's Spring Fling event.
A rummage and bake sale kicked off the day, while the local Christian band Trio performed. Families were able to take advantage of craft tables that included sand art, jewelrymaking, face painting, contests, games and food. Children took part in an Easter egg hunt and story time.
The purpose of the day was to raise money for children's and youth programs at the church.
Harvester was founded in 1995. Members held services at a local school until a year ago, when the new church building on Collier Parkway was built. With a steep mortgage eating up a big part of the church budget, little money is left over for programs, according to the Rev. Allen Johnson.
So it's up to director of Christian education and youth ministries Missy Watson to raise money for events.
Watson said the church held a similar event last year and netted about $280. This year they ended up with $12,000 in profit. The money will help send kids to the United Methodist Youth Camp in Leesburg this summer and for Sunday school material.
The youth group meets from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays for Bible study and from 5 to 8 p.m. Sundays for dinner and a program.
"My goal is to build a Christian relationship with them so in turn they will show the love of Christ to others," Watson said.
The youth group, parents and members of the church helped pull the events together for the day, which continued until 6 p.m. with games and a barbecue picnic dinner.
Johnson said the church of about 190 members has never had a problem with people volunteering.
"I've seen people's lives change because they are involved in something and not just sitting in a pew," said Johnson.
A good example of a member putting an idea into action is the concept of the Jumpstart music service.
Frank Bagamary approached Johnson in October with the idea of a service with secular, mainstream music mixed with a biblical message. The band consists of Bagamary on keyboards, his daughters, Desiree, 15, on drums and vocals, Sarah, 11, also on drums, David Haqq on guitar and his wife, Jan, on cello, Martha Kronk, vocals, and Stephen Dubee on bass. Minister of music Dennis Rowan played the saxophone as a guest with the group Saturday. The band plays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. every third Saturday at Harvester.
The service "is to hopefully reach people bored with regular services, and when they hear these songs on the radio again and again, they will remember the message," Bagamary said.
A Jumpstart service was held at the end of the day Saturday and the band played songs by Hootie and the Blowfish and John Lennon.
Members Skip and Missy Henk brought their boys, ages 13 and 6, to the picnic and Jumpstart service. Mrs. Henk said the boys especially enjoyed the service and plan on going again.
Even though Spring Fling and Jumpstart are outreaches to the community, Johnson said that because the church is fairly new and growing, the emphasis is to lead people in their relationship with Christ before taking on more ministry and outreach programs.
"Every church is gifted by God for different ministries, and we are trying to identify those," Johnson said.
Lou Ann Roos is one of Harvester's charter members. Her kids are actively involved in the youth programs. She is considered a lay leader, and acts as a liaison between the pastor and congregation if needed. She is also involved in a women's group that meets every fourth Thursday. She thinks Johnson is an excellent leader.
"The church has continued to show me its primary focus is on Jesus," Roos said.
_ Angela Miller-Hood cover Religion news in Pasco County and can be reached by calling (352) 521-5757, ext. 29, or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 29. Her e-mail address is angelasptimes.com.