City Light Church to host ‘Bless the Block’ in front of SCHC

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sept. 30, City Light Church will deliver a blessing to city residents.

The church will hold a “Bless the Block” event in front of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center on Crawford Street between Adams and Cherry streets.

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“We are a young church, and one of the goals and aims of our church is to invest ourselves in the neighborhood in which we feel the Lord has planted us and called us to be,” pastor Brian Crawford said. “So Bless the Block allows us an opportunity just to invest and be good neighbors. Our commitment and call is to be in the downtown area of Vicksburg.”

He said the church, which was founded in 2016, recently began having services in the chapel at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center. He said the church has had programs like Bless the Block in the past.

“We have this desire to engage our neighborhood often, and at least once a year or twice a year, we’ve done this where we’ve tried to reach out to the community and have an opportunity for us to introduce ourselves to the neighborhood,” Crawford said.

The events, he said, include food and games, activities for children and the distribution of school supplies. In 2017, he said, the church handed out 100 backpacks with school supplies to neighborhood children.

“This year we’re giving out 100 prepackaged school supply kits,” he said. “All the teachers we talk to when we engage our local schools tell us that they never stop having a need for school supplies.”

The inspiration behind Bless the Block, Crawford said, is the perception that people have begun thinking of Christianity “as what Christians are against instead of what Christians are for.

“Our block party is an opportunity to highlight what we believe Christ calls us to be for, which is love of neighbor, willingly emptying of ourselves, our time, our resources, our energy in order to bless another, and to display a hospitable attitude; to display compassion and display an attitude to want to see our neighborhoods better as a result of our presence.”

City Light Church began as a small group of people meeting at Crawford’s home in July 2016.

“We launched our first Sunday morning service in April 2017 at the Tree House Banquet Hall,” Crawford said. “So I guess you could say we’re 1 year old if you base our age on when the first service was held.”

He said two Biblical scriptures served as the inspiration to form the church: a passage in Matthew Chapter 5 about “Letting your life shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven,” and John Chapter 17, “Jesus prayed, ‘Father, I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one.”

“In a culture like ours that has historically fought and wrestled against unity,” he said, “What kind of witness of the realness and God would it be to see a group of people from different walks of life, different backgrounds, ethnicity, ages gather in the same space, worship in the same space and not have to conform to one another, but be willing to embrace each other and our cultural distinctions.”

City Light, Crawford said, was born with the commitment that it was going to be a neighborhood church “and we were going to embrace all of our neighbors.”

He said the church’s music reflects that commitment, adding gospel songs, contemporary Christian music and traditional hymns are played “because we’re seeking to reflect the diversity that’s in our neighborhoods, which in the downtown Vicksburg the population “is almost close to a 50-50 in terms of residents, black and white, and we want to see that represented in our church.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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