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North Little Rock’s First Pentecostal Church Celebrates Unity and Diversity with International Food Festival

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At a time when the country is polarized, the First Pentecostal Church in North Little Rock has decided to showcase its unity and diversity.

Its members therefore organized an international gastronomic festival, promoted it on social networks and sent out around 20,000 invitations.

“Within our church we have a lot of different nationalities, cultures and ethnicities and we wanted to celebrate that,” said Pastor Nathan Holmes. “Especially in our climate it’s so divided and we just felt we had to come together as a church [and] as a community. “

Billed as “Sunday of All Nations,” the event included an outdoor worship service, concert, and a free global food court in one of the church’s spacious parking lots.

Many participants wore clothing representative of the nations they sought to highlight.

The menu, over a foot long, featured specialties from nearly two dozen countries: Russian borscht soup; Bratwurst, sauerkraut and German pretzels; Roasted Greek olives and dolmades stuffed with rice; and Turkish kebabs.

The popular American booth featured cheeseburgers, crisps and Coca Cola.

Putting on an Uncle Sam outfit he had rented for $ 25, Ken Bourn broiled 480 beef patties while his wife, Marlo, disguised as Betsy Ross, baked 480 buns.

The burgers were quickly consumed.

Gallery: Celebration of All Nations of the First Pentecostal Church

“In less than an hour. The line didn’t stop; they were gone,” Bourn said.

Several parking spaces to the west, Sherwood restaurateur Darin Keith maintained the Holland stand, distributing a variety of cheeses.

“We have regular gouda, smoked gouda, we have a Beemster goat cheese, a havarti,” Keith said before citing a few other European varieties.

The restaurant he owns, Bennett’s by Keith & Co., does not specialize in Dutch cuisine.

“It’s American food there. I don’t serve Dutch food,” he said.

Keith was quick to agree to give visitors a taste of the Netherlands, however.

“It was our first year doing it, so we really didn’t know what to expect, but it was really fun,” he said. “The crowd was great. The people were great. It was fun, exciting. I consider this an annual event.”

Savory options included Guatemalan street corn; Mexican tamales, Moroccan couscous, southern fried chicken, Italian bruschetta and Brazilian cheese bread.

Sweet items included macaroons and French pancakes; Spanish churros and very leches; Belgian waffles and British scones.

At the UK stand, visitors could sip tea or sample wassail, hot glasses of hot cider mixed with spices.

Above the booth stood Chris Herring, dressed as a member of the Queen’s Guard, with a faux bearskin cap atop his head.

Now 43, Herring was a teenager on December 5, 1993, the day he first visited the church.

“I have been here for almost 30 years,” he said. “It’s amazing: the experience, the Holy Spirit, is just a life changing,” he said.

The Sunday Food Festival was one way to attract more first-time visitors.

By hosting the event outdoors, the church helped minimize the risk posed by covid-19.

The pandemic has left many Americans feeling isolated, disconnected and alone. The First Pentecostal Church seeks to bring people together, Holmes said.

“The purpose of this church is to connect people with God and with each other. It is that simple. Church is about community. It is about loving your brother or sister as you- same, what Jesus told us to do. “

At least 200 people volunteered to help make the event possible, said Holmes, who donned a Bavarian outfit he picked up on a trip to Germany.

Given the response, this won’t be the last international food festival at the First Pentecostal Church.

“We’re excited for next time,” said Holmes.

At the First Pentecostal Church’s International Food Festival on Sunday, tamales were on sale at the Mexico stand, while the Guatemala stand featured street corn. North Little Rock Church celebrated All Nations Sunday by singing, praying and enjoying a multi-course, multicultural feast. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood)

Darin Keith welcomed visitors to the Holland stand, offering them a selection of Dutch cheeses.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood)

Darin Keith welcomed visitors to the Holland stand, offering them a selection of Dutch cheeses. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood)

The Sunday menu included grilled corn on the cob, topped with sauce.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood)

The Sunday menu included grilled corn on the cob, topped with sauce. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood)

The take out boxes came in handy on Sunday at the First Pentecostal Church International Cooking Festival in North Little Rock.  Guests sometimes have trouble balancing all the dishes that have been served to them.  More photos at arkansasonline.com/116allnations.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood

The take out boxes came in handy on Sunday at the First Pentecostal Church International Cooking Festival in North Little Rock. Guests sometimes have trouble balancing all the dishes that have been served to them. More photos at arkansasonline.com/116allnations. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Frank E. Lockwood


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