Parkersburg churches bring community together at picnic

PARKERSBURG – Area residents gathered in the middle of the city Wednesday when three churches hosted their last community outreach of the summer.

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Charles Street, Liberty Street Church of God and Bethel A.M.E. Church on Laird Avenue hosted a gathering of people, food and faith Wednesday on the corner of Charles and Latrobe streets.

The churches have combined in an effort to feed and offer community to Parkersburg residents who don’t have as much as others in the area, church members said. The outreach was set up on Wednesdays throughout the summer months, with the last one being held this week.

The Rev. Brian Harrell, pastor of the Liberty Street Church of God, said the outreach program was coordinated several years ago and the three churches work together to offer food and fellowship.

“Our reason for being here is because we want to know people,” Harrell said of the event. “We want to get to know neighbors by name and bridge the gap between them and the church.”

Harrell said the youth leader of the Liberty Street church comes to speak to the children when they have large crowds. He said the crowd on Wednesday wasn’t as large, with about 100 people coming through the line.

Organizers said in the past they served close to 350 people.

“If we can reach people out here we can reach people anywhere,” he said. “We’re trying to find a way to connect with the community outside the church walls.”

Parkersburg residents Selina Duley and Donnie Davidson said they have been touched by the churches efforts to help the community.

“We grew up in this neighborhood,” Davidson said. “We’re here for the company and the food.”

Duley said the couple were involved in an accident on 19th Street in Parkersburg in March, and the church outreach has helped them in a time of need. Duley suffered a broken hip and fractured pelvis from the accident while Davidson suffered broken ribs.

“We were down and out from a car accident,” Duley said. “It’s good to see all these people and it’s great what the community does.”

Harrell said it was a blessing to watch Duley progress through her injuries over the past several months.

“We get to know people,” he said of the summer outreach.

The Rev. Marjorie Bevans, rector with the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, said at the end of July more than 350 people were fed. She said the dinner was held in the parish hall of the church when it rained.