(Photo: Todd Stone)
A Baptist Church in Georgia that produced evangelical-themed films like "Fireproof" and "Courageous" received thousands for its annual Independence Day celebration.
Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Ga., held its eighth annual "Freedom Fest" on Sunday, July 1 at its Sports Park and had an estimated 5,000 attendees.
"This Southwest Georgia community event takes place during the week of July 4th and is an American celebration of patriotism, freedom, and our national heritage," reads an info sheet on the event.
"We desire to celebrate the founding of our great country in a fun environment that is safe for the whole family … We request all communities in the surrounding Albany area to attend. We also desire to honor our military on this day."
Kenneth Bevel, the coordinator for Freedom Fest, told The Christian Post that the event had over 600 volunteers helping out for the free-to-the-public event.
The outdoor summer event featured many classic diversions, such as inflatable games for kids, horse rides, rock climbing, live music, a Wild West show, food, and fishing, and culminated with a fireworks show in the evening. The church also had an evangelical outreach present as well.
Held at a park owned by Sherwood Baptist, the "Freedom Fest" has been known to draw large numbers of attendees every year. In 2010, an estimated 25,000 people went out to the festival. Bevel told CP that they "expected 10,000" this year, but they got about half that number "because of the extreme heat."
Volunteers at the event made sure there was plenty of water and fans; many attendees brought umbrellas to block the sun's rays.
The privately owned park that served as the location for "Freedom Fest" boasts eight tennis courts, an equestrian center with three rinks, a one and a half mile long path for walking and running, four baseball fields, six soccer fields, two sand volleyball courts, and a fishing pond stocked with about 3,000 fishes.
Alex Kendrick, an associate pastor of Sherwood who has helped write and produce many of the films from the church's Sherwood Pictures, told local media about the themes of the event.
"We have three goals for the festival," said Kendrick in an interview with Albany Herald.
"We want to be grateful for the country that we live in, share the love of God and remind Albany that we love them."
Sherwood Pictures has produced many films, including "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof", and most recently "Courageous."