Written by Tanya Terry
For the second year, the PraiseFest in Flint drew about 200 visitors, with most of them being area residents of the Christian faith. The main purpose of PraiseFest 2022 was to bring everyone together regardless of denominations or musical styles, according to Sister Christina Frey a pastoral associate of St. Mary’s Mission-Church.
“Praise is really powerful and really vital to how we serve in Flint,” Frey added. “The hope is to draw people to the Lord.”
The event was hosted by the Catholic Community of Flint-St. Mary Mission, in partnership with the Flint Registry. Church Without Walls performed praise dance. Christ the King gospel choir sung. A Spanish band was among the crowd favorite, along with other outstanding musicians, such as the St. Mary’s Church musicians and the Holy Redeemer Church musicians.
Prayer teams from all over participated, with many of the prayer warriors being from Encounter Alumni of Flint and St. Francis Prayer Center.
Juanita Humphrey, age 75, of Flint, said the prayer and praise were her favorite parts of the event. She had come with several prayer requests and received prayer.
“When I came, my heart was feeling heavy because of several of my loved ones,” Humphrey said. “I could have stayed home and had a pity party. But after I prayed with them and heard the music, my heart felt lighter. I also saw people I hadn’t seen in a while, which was a surprise.”
“I just felt the presence of the Holy Spirit,” said Tye Mack MSW, LMSW of Access Granted Ministries and counselor/owner of Pathway to Light Counseling Services, LLC.
“A lot of people have taken a hit financially,” Mack added. “They’ve lost loved ones. I feel people were encouraged and uplifted. They were reminded God loves them and hasn’t left.”
Mack talked about praise and worship events and their importance at the Praise Fest.
The multitude of organizations that were there to provide or talk about resources they provide the community as part of PraiseFest included the Flint Registry, Mott Community College-Public Safety, Genesee Health System, Catholic Charities, Luke Project 52 Clinic of Flint, Crossover Outreach, St. Francis Prayer Center, the Latinx Technology and Community Center, Church Without Walls, Access Granted Ministries, Mothers of Joy, the Flint Alano House with Rise Up Recovery, Always Hope Ministries, St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, Lighthouse Spirit of God Church, Oak Street Health, MDHHS, GCARD and the Genesee County Youth Corporation. Information from CHEA Literacy Program and Crime Stoppers was also available to event attendees.
Groups come together for the Unity March every other month and participate in a Resource Fair afterwards for the community. Kenyetta Dotson, community activist and a founding and seed organizer of the Unity March, wanted the partners to meet at St.Mary’s for the PraiseFest.
“Connecting people to services is important,” said Frey. “Flint has a lot to offer.”
St. Mary’s provided free ice cream, cotton candy, pop and popcorn, as well as free booklets about hope at the PraiseFest. Ave Maria Radio was there.
There were also plenty of giveaways and raffles-from the Flint Registry giving away free Farmer’s Market gift cards who those who signed up for the registry or updated their record, to St. Robert’s Church giving away board games.
“All of it was my favorite,” said Christopher Lacroix, age 30, of Flint.
“It was fun to get out the house,” Lacroix added. “You could get free stuff. They had my favorite two boards games. They were giving away Trouble and Connect 4. They were giving away one game per household. So, I got Connect 4. I came last year, and it was fun. They also had pop. I like that sometimes.”
Frey said PraiseFest is a place of hope.
“It’s beautiful to see people come together as one!” she said.
St. Mary’s Church, Church Without Walls and other churches go out into the community and door-to-door on a regular basis to make sure families have crucial information on available resources.
Dotson believes the lasting impact of the PraiseFest is multifaceted. To her, the purpose of the event is to lift Jesus, give hope and let people know support is available through area churches and community-based organizations.
“We’re more alike than we are different,” Dotson said. “We try to promote that through song, through dance, through our praise, through our worship and through the act of love.”
The 2023 PraiseFest will take place next summer or fall. Anyone who would like to be part of the planning team is encouraged to call St. Mary’s at 810-232-4012.