Denfeld News

July 10, 2007
Duluth News Tribune

Party unity
By Linda Hanson

For years, Val Gow thought the churches in Duluth’s Lincoln Park/West End should do more to reach out to people in the neighborhood.

On Friday, they will.

With the help of people from 12 churches and organizations that serve the neighborhood, Gow has organized the Lincoln Park United Celebration. He hopes the free event at Holy Family Catholic Church attracts at least 1,000 people.

From 4-9 p.m. there will be hot dogs, ice cream, live music, a portable skateboard park, a ventriloquist, an Elvis impersonator, prizes, pony rides, basketball demonstrations and a chance to shoot hoops. The Fun Wagon from Duluth Parks and Recreation Department will be there, too.

“I hope that we reach out to the families of the West End … and they see we care about them, and we see what needs they have and how the churches of the West End can help them,” Gow said.

Gow, who lives in Hermantown, is a member of Lincoln Park Community Church. He grew up on West Fifth Street in Lincoln Park/West End, back when families stayed there for a long time, he said. Now it’s more transient, Gow said.

The neighborhood is dotted with churches, several dating to the city’s early immigrant days when churches provided not only a place to worship, but also a place to socialize with others in the same ethnic group. Those ethnic ties have loosened and the churches now mainly attract members from outside the neighborhood.

God planted the idea in his head long ago to have the neighborhood churches work together on a project like a neighborhood celebration, Gow said. He organized the event with the help of a committee that included representatives from churches and organizations in the neighborhood.

Lynn Jones, who represents Great Lakes Gospel Church on the committee, said the celebration is a labor of love. Churches have crossed denominational lines and united to become one body, she said.

“This is a wonderful way to reach out and show people we’re human and we’re real,” she said.

Jones said Gow has impressed her with his genuine desire to reach out with love to people in the neighborhood. “I feel like he’s got this sense of healing about him,” she said. “He wants to bring people together, and he has this sense of unity.”

Gow hopes the event spurs the neighborhood churches to continue networking and make the festival an annual event. Maybe the churches also can work together to provide such things as food, activities or furniture to people in neighborhood, he said.

“We’re trying to bring the church to them, not them to church,” he said.

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