FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The excitement of a new semester drifted across Southwestern during the campus picnic and church fair, Sept. 6.
It showed on the faces of children carrying balloon animals, getting their faces painted and tumbling around on bounce houses set up on the seminary’s west lawn. It could be heard as students conversed with old friends and met new ones. And it was carried across campus on the vibrant melodies of the NewSound jazz band, directed by trumpeter and associate professor of jazz and instrumental studies Joe Hardin.
And, of course, this excitement buzzed through the lines of faculty, staff and students, along with their families, who waited to receive free Chick-fil-A sandwiches provided by the seminary. Southwestern gave away 2,200 sandwiches throughout the evening.
“Chick-fil-A is always a favorite, and the seminary family was able to enjoy it for free, thanks to the generosity of sponsoring churches,” James Williams, assistant director of student life, said. Despite the heat, he added, those who attended the picnic had a great time and stayed throughout the evening.
Designed to “connect students with local churches in a fun atmosphere,” the picnic was a success—especially for the children and adults who dared to ride the mechanical bull.
Ph.D. candidate Steven James has attended the campus picnic for several years with his wife, Heather, and their children. Each year, he loves to see students and faculty members chatting with one another and laughing, enjoying the “light hearted” environment of the event. He also enjoys the family friendly feel of the picnic.
“It is always a fun time,” James said. “The kids love coming up to ‘God’s seminary,’ as they call it, and seeing other seminary families. And they make that connection, even though they’re young kids, that these other people are a part of ‘God’s seminary.’
“It is a good environment. The kids love the things that are done by the churches, like the balloons and the face painting, or the bounce houses and other activities like that. It is just a good family environment.”
The picnic also gives parents the opportunity to connect with other parents that they might not have met otherwise, James said. Amid this fun for the whole family, students also connected with local churches.
Phillip Griffin, minister of music at Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said the picnic and church fair has successfully opened “the door of communication” between students and churches both this year and in years past. During the picnic, 38 area churches and ministries set up booths across the seminary’s west lawn, passed out popcorn, Ramen Noodles, Frisbees and other perks, and called students to join them in reaching a lost world for Christ.
“This is really an important event,” college student Joshua Clayton said. “For new students, it is hard to find churches to get plugged into because there are a lot of Baptist churches around here. So this will definitely help give you a chance to know who the members are. And you get free Chick-fil-A sandwiches. That’s always a plus in my book.”
Watch a fun video of the picnic.