Church cools off with community

Published 9:58 pm Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Families in downtown Suffolk cooled off from the summer heat with fresh lemonade and ice cream, plus the rest of the food and fun organized by Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic on Saturday.

The church reached out to the surrounding communities on Saturday afternoon with its first Gospel Explosion Block Party. The event was held in the open lot at 623 Brook Ave. with tents, bounce houses, and an ice cream truck.

There was plenty of music, dancing and food to keep people entertained and fed in the heat. FTMA Pastor Steven Brown said he was pleased with so many local families showing up right at the start.


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“It’s going to be interactive all day long, until about seven o’clock tonight,” Brown said.

Older Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic members prepared fish and chips for visitors while the children offered fresh lemonade, and Total Transformation House of Praise members provided barbecue, coleslaw, chips and other snacks. Ebony Fiya, FTMA’s music and arts ministry dance group, performed their routine under the main tent and with music from DJ I.B.

The event was free and open to the public. Children enjoyed ice cream from the Mr. Cream Cones truck and got their faces painted. Vendors also had jewelry and other accessories for sale.

Tiffany Hunter enjoyed the block party with all five of her children. Her sons Jakhari, 6, and Jaceon, 3, ran around the party with their faces painted like Spiderman’s. They had been out since it first stated, Hunter said, enjoying the bounces and face painting and all the joyous music.

“It’s wonderful (that) these kids can get out here and have a good time,” she said.

Adele Jenee’ Ruffin, 19, came up with the idea for the Gospel Explosion. She’s been an FTMA church member her whole life and thought this would be a great way to help her church’s community outreach efforts — especially towards youth in the community.

“They’ve been to block parties,” Ruffin said about local youth, “so why not reach out and impact youth in the community through music, food and entertainment?”

The church wanted the block party to be a free and fun opportunity for people in the community, and also an open invitation for them to come to Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic.

“Our vision is to restore hope, reach the lost and to reclaim the church,” said FTMA Youth Coordinator Nicole Turner.

Brown said that the church plans to make this Gospel Explosion an annual event. The church is already engaged in outreach such as its annual Feast of Harvest food pantry and its trunk-or-treat event in the fall.

The church is also “adopting” Hillpoint Elementary School this year to donate school supplies and provide mentoring, working with disadvantaged families to give them the supplies and support they need, Brown said.

He said that the goal for his church is to do more community outreach.

“I believe church is the community, and the community is the church,” he said.

Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic is located at 476 Wellons St. Visit for more information.