July 2024

Festival Brings People Together for Fun and Worship

Simon Cassar was praying in the middle of the night four years ago when he had an inspiration.
“What is true love?” he wondered. “Can we show that true love amongst ourselves? How do we show it?”
The answer came as a joyful festival bringing together 16 churches in an Aptos park to spread love, culture, fun and caring.

“The whole purpose is we see a world that’s kind of torn apart,” says Cassar, 66, a retired aviation engineer who has six kids. “We have different neighbors trying to destroy other people. We are just seeing a world that’s being torn apart because of Covid. Half the country is one way and half the other.

“We thought, let’s bring these churches together and show what true love is.”

His peers at Calvary Chapel in Aptos (the red building behind Aptos Barbeque) went for it in a big way. The small, 25-member church raised $30,000 to launch the celebration, which has grown by 75 percent year after year.

The variety of churches even surprises Cassar. There is a cowboy church, biker churches, churches for people in recovery, suicide prevention churches, surfer churches, gospel churches.

“We have all parts of the body of Christ,” says Cassar. “And we are going to bring them together and show the love of Christ and the creativity of Christ in a gentle and compassionate way.”

The events include: Feed-Daddy in highchairs (Dads have to wear large bibs that say “I Love Mommy”), Stroller Slalom Race, Diaper Change Race, Diaper Toss and give away free baby clothes and toys for those who participate. Gunny Sack races (80 years & older) with prizes. A Mount Sinai climbing wall to touch the Ten Commandments. A Sling Fling to prepare us for the rapture. A mechanical bull – you just hang onto Jesus, so you do not fall. Bounce houses where kids can leap for joy.

“Some of us won’t even step into a church,” says Simon. “How about stepping into a park and seeing all the different, unique churches? This isn’t about one person. It’s a multitude of individuals having the same calling called the Holy Spirit guiding us. It’s been on the hearts of many people for many years. God’s calling us to come together and celebrate the.body of Christ.”The bands performing include Kokua, Green Valley Worship, Rock by Faith Band, Crossroads Worship Team, Teen Challenge Choir, Unknown Survivors, Celebrate Recovery, Nazarene Spanish Worship, Boulder Creek Worship, Preparation Worship, Picking for Jesus and Dunamis Rhema.

There will be two stages, one indoors and one outside.

“I love secular music,” says Simon. “But if you notice, a lot is about broken hearts from someone you love. And there’s this beautiful music out there, like Taylor Swift’s latest. But it’s about looking for a soul mate. Here, we have a soul mate who will be with us for life.”

Cassar says churches were torn apart by Covid and people not being able to attend in person. He hopes this kind of gathering will inspire a comeback.

“What better way to serve the Lord than to serve ice cream?” he asks, noting that this gathering shares the spirit with neighbors unconditionally. “The first commandment is to love God with all our heart and soul and the second is to love your neighbor.”

Join the free gathering July 20, 11am to 5pm at Aptos Village Park.

By Brad Kava

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