So. Calif. celebrates family style

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Crestmont “rocked” on May 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and it wasn’t an earthquake! Southern California had a corps family celebration with 900 in attendance. The Integrated Program Team, led by Major Steve Smith, divisional secretary for Program, facilitated the Singing Company competition, Bible Bowl, World Services ingathering, main stage events, children’s events, and soccer and basketball tournaments…and, food and more food, as corps did fund raising for next year.

Tents, tables and chairs were set up on the main lawn; food was cooking, musicians checked sound, cadets assisted with parking, and people moved from area to area. The smell of BBQ drifted over the campus all day.

Singing Company competition involved 210 children from 11 corps. During the main stage ingathering they sang as a massed group. Winners were Santa Fe Springs, Torrance and Pomona, respectively. One of the judges said, “it was very close—the top four were outstanding groups.”

Bible Bowl occurred simultaneously, based on Matthew’s gospel; hours of study were evident. Oxnard led, with Santa Monica second and Los Angeles Central third. Quizmaster Captain Lisa Smith said, “Twenty years from now, they will still know the words of Matthew. I still know First and Second Corinthians from the ‘80s.”

On the back lawn, soccer was a serious event. Winners were LA Central corps; SFOT was second. All played with intensity and skill. Captain Antonio Horta said “The best things shown here are teamwork, respect for each other and knowing ‘it can be done’ to play hard and display Christian spirit.”

The basketball tournament took place in the afternoon, lasting until 5:30 p.m. Santa Monica took first, and Harbor Light took second. Many teams had been playing in the Compton Monday league, and were well acquainted. For some, the league commitment included involvement in corps programs and weekly practice. Musicians, corps officers, youth leaders, family members and young people played alongside each other.

A mouthwatering aroma wafted from Santa Maria’s mobile BBQ pit, where tri-tips were cooking. Other choices included fruit, sodas, hot dogs, ice cream, egg rolls, burritos, tacquitos and hot sauce, spicy sausage, cotton candy and popcorn.

Many formal presentations were made on the main stage at noon. One of those was the World Services check presented to Major Paul Seiler, divisional commander. Including the SFOT and ARCC amounts, the check was $937,901. Sarai Precidio, 5, of San Pedro, amazed the crowd with her powerful singing. Stage events continued during the afternoon with great music. Interest booths included Camp, Missions, Prayer, and THQ TEAM discipleship training.

People rested under trees, sat and chatted around tables, and kids ran between food and a children’s area where games, crafts, face painting and bouncing games were available. It was a family-friendly atmosphere offering respite for busy lives. Everyone showed great respect for the lovely grounds.

When the tents were dismantled, people joined in to fold chairs and pick up trash. The divisional family packed up hats, strollers and kids of all ages. Truly a celebration of the family of God under the umbrella of SoCal.

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