July 10, 2007
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
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.