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Creatures part of church's outreach

August 29, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Steve Gatz holds a veiled chameleon Sunday afternoon during the fourth annual block party at the Hagerstown Seventh-day Adventist Church.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN --Steve Gatz showed a crowd a chameleon, a bull frog, a lizard and other animals during a block party at the Hagerstown Seventh-day Adventist Church on Robinwood Drive Sunday afternoon.

Then he needed some help.

He looked around for youths who could help him lift a snake out of a plastic box.

But this was no small specimen.

It was a 14-foot, 130-pound Burmese python, and Gatz and several other people worked to stretch the snake out for spectators to see.

"And he's half-grown. He can get to be twice this big," said Gatz, who has more than 30 years of professional teaching and outdoor education experience.

"We feed him about 12 big rats every 20 days. Or a little boy every once in awhile. No, not really," Gatz said.

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"He's squeezing me," one boy yelled out.

As Gatz showed the youths the animals, he described their unique capabilities and how the characteristics were the work of God.

It was the fourth year the local church hosted the block party, which was held from 4 to 7 p.m., according to Mary Ellen Kirk, who helped organize this year's event with Kathy Yates.

The block party is held to introduce the community to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and local residents were invited to come enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn and drinks.

Different stations were set up in the parking lot, where people were offered dental advice, and had their blood pressure and sugar levels checked. Guests were also told how they could take advantage of free Bible studies and youth programs at the church, among other programs.

"It opens the door to the community," said Chris Holland, who was recently named the senior pastor of the church.

Holland came from the Chicago area and said he wants to create an environment at the church where people feel free to ask questions about religion in a "nonthreatening environment." Teri Cholewicki of Hagerstown said she came to the block party after being invited by friends who attend the church.

"I think this is a good outreach from the church," Cholewicki said.

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