All's fair among churches

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Three local churches joined forces Saturday during a community fair aimed at giving back to neighborhood kids.

Children dove onto a water slide and created arts and crafts at the Community Kids' Fair at Kenwood Street and Wilson Avenue. The First United Methodist Church, Glendale Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church of Glendale hosted the fair to boost neighborhood involvement.

"We just wanted to do something for the kids in the community," said Nancy Person, the church's Children and Family ministries director.

The First United Methodist Church began hosting the fair a few years ago in an effort to become more visible in the community, Nancy Person said.

Church leaders decided last year to expand the fair and allow nearby ministries to get involved, she said.

"It's also an opportunity for the different churches in the community to work together," Person said. "Basically, we are all trying to do the same thing: create God's love for the children. This gives a chance to all do that together."

While children enjoyed the fair's summer activities, parents got more information on the churches' programs for children available throughout the year.

Allowing parents to learn about the various kids' programs was also a chance for the churches to improve enrollment numbers, Person said.

Enrollment numbers for First United Church's kids programs, including Bible school and a children's center, have been small, she said.

"We would love to have more kids and parents involved in what we are doing," Person said. "We are trying to find out what kinds of things parents are looking for. We know people are busy these days."

The petite programs have not been affected by the economic downturn, Person said. Low program attendance has been the result of busier schedules.

"Unless they have church as a No. 1 priority, they have so many things that distract them," she said. "I think that is the biggest thing. And while we would like to see church be the No. 1 priority for families, we understand, so we try to accommodate as much as possible to provide programs that work into their busy schedules."

The church is planning to launch a first-ever summer day camp from June 28 to Aug. 20 for parents looking to keep their first- to third-grade children busy, Person said.

Glendale Presbyterian also showcased some of its summer and pre-teen programs at the fair.

Program attendance hasn't been a challenge for the church, said Lisa Patriquin, Glendale Presbyterian's Children's and Family ministries director.

"We find that people are coming and are very willing to get involved and willing to connect and get to know people," she said. "It's great when we increase our membership in our church, but it's not only about increasing membership. It's about just being a part of the presence in the community."

North Hollywood resident Rafael Melgar and his family created crafts at the fair.

"It's nice to spend time with the family, and the kids could have fun," he said.

While Melgar was not a church member, he said he considered enrolling his children in the summer programs.

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