(Photo: Todd Stone)
The Georgia church behind the hit films “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants” hosted its annual Freedom Festival on July 4, drawing a record-breaking number of people.
Some 25,000 people attended the sixth annual Freedom Festival at the 82-acre Sports Park owned by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., according to Sherwood Senior Pastor Michael Catt. The festival marked the largest event in the community’s history.
“Humbled by opp to share gospel @ 1 time w/most ever in 40 yrs of ministry,” tweeted Catt on Sunday. “Music, fireworks, weather, perfect! Souls saved. Freedom indeed.”
The free-to-the-public festival featured inflatable games for kids, horse rides, rock climbing, a Wild West show, live music, food, fishing, fireworks and evangelistic outreach. Nearly 1,000 volunteers from Sherwood Baptist Church served their community at the festival.
“This is a great environment for people to bring their families,” said Ken Bevel, the festival’s coordinator, to NBC’s local WALB News. “What they can expect is to come to a family friendly place where we just want to love on them as much as possible.”
Sherwood Baptist Church dedicated the Sports Park in November 2003 and began construction in April 2004. The expansive privately-owned park that is open to the community boasts eight tennis courts, an equestrian center with three rinks, a 1.5-mile long walking/running path, four baseball fields, six soccer fields, two sand volleyball courts, and a fishing pond stocked with 3,000 fishes.
“Imagine thousands of kids playing soccer, flag football, t-ball … and a host of other activities all with Christian coaches in a safe environment,” said Catt at the park’s dedication in 2003. “No more practices on church nights or games on Sundays, just excellent sports in balance with a total life view. What could be better or healthier for your family?”
But arguably the Sports Park most memorable feature is the 110-feet white cross that is visible from the air and seen in the landing pattern for the Albany airport. At the foot of the cross lies a time capsule that holds prayer cards from members and friends that walked the property praying for the people and activities the park will attract.
Sponsors of this year’s Freedom Festival included Sherwood Christian Academy, Chick-fil-A, Sherwood Baptist Church, David Smith Autoland, Potter Motor, Co., and Bate Gas.