Culture celebrated at church

WARREN – As a crowd gathered around the visitor in the parking lot of North-Mar Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, one boy turned around and pulled out his phone to take a selfie. Parents clamored to snap photos of their children in the middle.

At the center of the group? One large camel.

“I wanted to feel its fur. It’s rough, but its nose is silky soft,” said Barbara Schommer of Newton Falls.

The woman gently petted the animal as it took a rest from providing rides around the church at the Middle Eastern Extravaganza on Sunday afternoon.

Nearby beneath a tent Sonja Gavitt helped her daughter Sienna Gavitt, 6, with a craft project.

“I think it is important to be exposed to every culture,” said Sonja Gavitt.

The festival also included henna tattoos, Arabic lessons and a plethora of Middle Eastern foods.

“Any time one of our international workers goes back to their field, we do an event on their county,”said the Rev. Paul Armitage, who runs the church’s local and global missions.

Other festivals have celebrated German and African culture. This event centered around one of their “international workers,” who for safety reasons was unable to be named but will be involved with poverty alleviation and community development in the Middle East.

“It’s to rally the church family around the international workers. It’s fun and a cultural experience,” Armitage said. “Really, it shows God’s heart for the nations.”