PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A little corner in Pass Christian had a big celebration during the First Baptist Church's Fifth annual Labor Day Weekend Backyard Picnic. And, appropriate for the name of the holiday, it's been a labor of love.
Five years ago, Hal Lee and his church family decided it was time to give back to the community that had blessed them in the days, months and years after Hurricane Katrina. After the church rebuilt on the same lot in Pass Christian just north of War Memorial Park, the group hug extended beyond church borders in the form of a Labor Day weekend picnic.
Lee has been coordinating it every year, with lots of help.
"We want them to know that this is an open house," he said. "Come in take your shoes off, have a good time and just fellowship with us. We're right here in the heart of Pass Christian and there's not many churches left here in downtown anymore."
The picnic features activities, games, music - either home grown or brought in from other churches - and plenty of fellowship. Oh, and there is the food. Lots of food.
The Rev. Jeff Wicker has been on the job less than a year, but he quickly learned of the picnic and the enthusiasm it brought.
But this is Lee's last picnic to manage with the church. He will be moving soon to Alabama.
Whether or not the church sponsors the picnic next year, Wicker said the spirit of outreach won't stop.
"We do want to continue extending good will. And having these meet and greets and just give back to the community instead of saying we want something from you," he said. "We have much to give. Our God is big, He's got a lot of love for this world, and we want to be an avenue of his expressing his love for our community in Pass."