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‘A Church With Feet’: First Assembly’s community work picked for national video

Despite coat-grabbing northwest winds and temperatures in the 50s, a record-breaking crowd of more than 600 turned out Sunday for Brookhaven First Assembly of God’s annual Community Appreciation Crawfish Boil.

A national video crew was on hand to capture the flavor of the event, right down to the Cajun/Zydeco music and the 600 pounds of crawfish served up along with boiled corn and potatoes – plus untold numbers of grilled hamburgers and chicken strips. Chips were even available for those who preferred to skip their veggies.

To wash down the spicy crawdads and boiled vegetables, there was sweet and unsweet tea or lemonade, with cookies to round out the feast.

The annual event, which serves as a day of ministry by the church to the community, caught the interest of the General Council of the Assemblies of God this year. So a four-person film crew was dispatched to Brookhaven over the weekend from the Council’s national headquarters in Springfield, Mo.

Brookhaven’s First Assembly is one of five churches across the U.S. selected for a documentary that will air at the General Council’s upcoming meeting in August. Later, the documentary will be turned into a small group study course, said Pastor Jim Mannon of Brookhaven First Assembly.

“The theme of the documentary is believing in your community,” Shailey Murphy of the Springfield video crew said Sunday morning as she looked out over the church grounds set up with white tent-covered tables waiting for the crowd to arrive.

Brookhaven was the final stop for the crew, which had previously shot footage in San Francisco, Orlando, Ft. Worth and Montana. The crew has visited “everything from a homeless church to a mega-Hispanic church,” Murphy said, pulling her jacket closer as the wind gusted through the grassy lot adjacent to First Assembly.

“It’s really about churches that are taking church beyond the four walls and helping,” said video crewmember Randy Bacon. “… A church with feet taking it to the community and doing it in a way that’s unique to the community.”

The annual crawfish boil morphed from a church members’ event to a community one three years ago, pastor Mannon said.

Members of the congregation reach out and invite non-church members, and the word just spreads, he explained. The idea is to bring in those who aren’t currently attending anywhere else. Three years ago, the event drew 250, with 360 last year.

Sunday morning as the crawfish cookers and grills were fired up and the kids’ inflatables grew into shape next to the church, Mannon conservatively anticipated 450-460 for this year’s event, which he labeled as the day’s ministry to the community. No other service was planned.

“So many times the community sees the church as always wanting something from them,” he said. “We want them to see us as giving to them.”