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First Assembly shares food, fun, fellowship

The members of Brookhaven First Assembly want people in the community to know that they are loved, so they’re throwing a party.

For about a dozen years, the church on North Second Street has reached out with games, food and live music to celebrate a sense of belonging with its annual community appreciation picnic.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. the fun starts with inflatables and games like basketball and gaga ball — something church office worker Nikki Fortson calls “kinda-sorta like dodgeball” — and live music. The Jackson-based indie band Empty Atlas will perform, along with rapper I AM SAM.

Lunch offerings are varied, and free — as is everything at the gathering.

“There’s jambalaya, which I’m pretty excited about,” said Fortson.

Also, for the second year the main offering is Boston butt, offered up in pulled pork sandwiches.

“We’ll also have cookies, hotdogs, baked beans, chicken, a lot of choices. I’m pretty excited,” Fortson said.

Pastor Jim Mannon said the church welcomed more than 300 people to the event last year and they have served up to 600 at times. Everyone is welcomed and no one will be pressured to join the church.

The event takes place at a time when most churches are having weekend morning services, but it’s not really intended to be a service itself, she said.

“It’s less of a church service and more of a small version of a festival. It’s more to serve the community — to tell people that we love them no matter who they are or what they believe. It’s loving people,” said Fortson.