Pleasant Grove Baptist Church of Ruston hosted its annual Hallelujah Night on Saturday evening. Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up in Jesus was the theme.This year, New Hope Baptist Church and New Prosperity Baptist Church of Clay helped to sponsor this event. Adrian Nelson is the presiding minister of Pleasant Grove. New Hope is led by Salvin Albritton Jr. and New Prosperity by Charles Thompson.
Hallelujah Night is held to provide a safe place for children to fellowship in a Christian environment rather than trick-or-treating. Also, it is an alternative to celebrating Halloween, which many consider to be a day of evil.
Karmyn Crowe of Pleasant Grove coordinated Hallelujah Night. Crowe said, “There is nothing sacred about Halloween. At Hallelujah Night everyone can come out for good wholesome fun as a family.”
“These are dangerous times, so we try to keep children away from going door-to-door. The children and parents all enjoy themselves, from toddlers to adults,” she said.
Crowe serves as young adult ministry president and coordinates Sunday school activities.
Activities for the children included face painting, a snack walk, pin the nose on the pumpkin, pass the pumpkin, go fish, musical chairs, hula hooping, soccer and basketball.
Refreshments included popcorn, chili dogs, drinks and “goody” bags. Many of the children dressed in costumes.
Adult activities included bible trivia, bingo and a cake walk.
Seven-year-old Aubrey Williams of New Prosperity enjoyed this event. Williams said she had fun playing ping pong, which to her, was the best activity.
She said, “I liked getting my face painted and meeting new people. I would like to return to Hallelujah Night next year.” Williams dressed as a bride.
The Girls of Grace painted faces. Barbara Bedford started this ministry at Pleasant Grove in 2004. One member, Raven Kelly, said she enjoys Hallelujah Night.
“Hallelujah Night is a great thing for kids, and it is really fun. It is better than trick-or-treating and provides more interaction. People can play games and worship and fellowship with one another,” said Kelly.
Kelly, a senior at Ruston High School, said she has volunteered at this event for years.
“I am one of the older youth. I have been volunteering for a while, so I know how it goes. It is a great experience,” she said.
Eldred Hardison and his wife, Shakira brought their one-year-old son, Nicholas (dressed as Mickey Mouse), to this event.
Eldred, a member of New Prosperity, helped with Hallelujah Night.
“This is the function of the church, bringing people together and serving others. We are three churches but one purpose – all serving under God,” he said.
Hardison, a juvenile officer with the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office and a DARE instructor, knows firsthand about the dangers of trick or treating.
He said that many people forget the real meaning behind “trick or treat.” “We had a misconception of the meaning. Thank God most people got treats instead of tricks,” he said.
He says he remembers when a teen-aged boy was shot and killed while trick or treating.
This is why he says, “We as churches are stepping up to get youth in a new environment that is safe.”
Christianity is a big part of Hallelujah Night. Reverend Kenneth Sapp used scriptures from the Bible to explain the pumpkin Christian. He used Proverbs 1:7 to explain cutting of the top of the head asking the Lord to remove filth and open minds. He talked about removing seeds and carving the eyes, nose and mouth while using scriptures.
He said, “Hallelujah Night is a seed that’s planted to show people that we can still have fun at church activities, in a safe, Christian environment.