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The churches of Simcoe, Ontario (population 14,000), want the children in their community to know the love of Jesus. They are working together across denominational lines to make sure that happens.

The Kids Festival in Simcoe featured lots of activities.

Brian and Janae Miller


On August 27, Immanuel Christian Reformed Church and six other congregations, ranging from Mennonite to Pentecostal, teamed up for the third year in a row to host the Kids Festival at their local fairgrounds. The festival attracted more than 1,200 people.

Originally initiated in 2009 by the Billy Graham Association as an evangelistic carnival, including an altar call at the end of the day, the ministerial association of Simcoe decided to keep the event going.

“The format this year was a little different,” explained Jeff Vandermeer, pastor at Immanuel CRC and one of the event organizers. “Our goal was to create a free and fun event where families can hear, maybe for the first time, the name of Jesus.”

Instead of having a structured evangelistic agenda, Vandermeer said they arranged for a series of “pre-evangelism” events that wove the message of Christianity into festival displays and activities.

“Basically, our intention was to do something to bless the community in the name of Jesus, and hopefully create spaces for the Holy Spirit to work,” he added, noting that the variety of denominational backgrounds of the people planning the event has also helped them all learn to live better in community.

Organizers have noted with interest the increase in adults who attend without children and have been pleased to discover that the festival meets a need among the surprising number of people living at poverty level in their community.

Kids Festival is one of two multi-church events held in the town each year.

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