0907CLERMONTaudListen as Retired Army Lt. Steve Russell, a state senator from Oklahoma, talks about his participation in the weekend event.
CLERMONT — Lawn chairs replaced pews as several hundred people crowded Clermont Park on Sunday morning for a church service as part of Clermont City Celebration.
“What a beautiful day the Lord has made and what has he told us to do? Rejoice and be glad in it,” James Dollar, Concord Baptist Church’s worship pastor, said at the start of the service.
“My son (said), ‘Dad, I love wearing shorts to church. This is sweet.’”
Retired Army Lt. Steve Russell, a state senator from Oklahoma, gave the sermon. He spoke about God’s watchfulness while Russell served in Iraq as part of a group of soldiers responsible for arresting Saddam Hussein.
“If you don’t know Jesus Christ, square that up with him today,” he told the crowd spread out in rows across the length of the park, which runs alongside Main Street.
Russell also spoke Saturday night, the opening day of the celebration. This year’s weekend festival joined two late-summer events in this North Hall city.
Previously, the city put on Clermont Days and Concord Baptist Church, which sits across from Clermont Park, sponsored “Sundays in the Park.”
This year, Clermont City Councilman John Brady said the two groups realized they could pool their resources to put on one big festival for the community.
Other area churches participated in Sunday’s service, with members showing up to worship.
“When you start doing things like this in the community and you start getting to know community people, it is such a joy,” Dollar told the audience.
“I love doing stuff out in the open and in the air because neighborhoods all the way around are either like, ‘Man, what is that going on?’ or ‘I wish they’d shut up,’” Dollar said.
Sunday morning worshippers streamed in with chairs and blankets, using song sheets to fan themselves during the service. Others sat under the branches of a large shade tree.
“It’s funny to see so many people wearing sunglasses today,” Dollar said. “You all are incognito.”
The event also featured the Square One youth ministry from Friendship Baptist Church painting a likeness of the crucified Christ on pieces of square canvas.
Dollar also introduced Scott Delozier, a church member, to the crowd, saying he was preparing for Sept. 11 deployment to Afghanistan.
He asked for worshippers to lay hands on Delozier, and several responded, surrounding Delozier as a prayer was spoken seeking God’s protection for the soldier.
Delozier, who received a standing ovation, is a member of the Lawrenceville-based Alpha Company in Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade.
Concord members Ann and Bill Hoppman, occupying a space near the large shade tree, said they were enjoying the service.
“I’m looking at the large number of people and thinking that’s wonderful,” Ann Hoppman said. “And the weather is being perfectly agreeable — we’re not being cooked.”