Church pair hosts basketball tourney, block party

By Dean Wright -

BIDWELL — A partnership between Vinton Baptist Church and Mount Caramel Baptist Church will host a three-on-three basketball tournament and block party at the corner of Ohio 554 and Depot Street in Bidwell this coming Sunday, starting at 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Food, corn hole games, inflatables, music, prizes and more are anticipated to be held at the event.

According to event organizers Ray Allen, Mount Caramel Associate Minister Marlin Griffin, and Vinton Baptist Pastor of Discipleship Jamie Gruber, the event is based around the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:7. “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; For in its peace you will have peace.” (NKJV)

“The fact that what we’re trying to do is reach out to the community and bring positivity to the Bidwell area,” said Griffin. “There are some good things that happen in Bidwell and it’s (the event) based on Jeremiah 29:7. That verse talks about peace in the city and one of the things that we’re trying to do is bring peace as far as the drug culture and give our young generation hope. Even though they come from a small town, they don’t have to look down on themselves when they go out into the world and be ashamed of Bidwell. There are positive people here.”

This is the sixth incarnation of the three-on-three tournament and block party. Gruber initially organized the event and held it in his driveway.

“I got inspired from that passage that the church is supposed to be active and seeking prosperity in the community that they’re in,” said Gruber. “A lot of times the American churches really aren’t that way and they can become complacent and more of a club. I thought a way to engage the community was through our young kids.”

Gruber said he felt a lot of area churches were holding events in Gallipolis and he wanted to focus closer to home. Because Mount Caramel Baptist Church sits within Bidwell, Gruber reached out to them to partner.

“It’s something the whole community can get involved in and be relevant and enrich the Bidwell community and bring folks together through the power of the Gospel,” said Gruber. “It’s not real churchy. The first year I did it in my driveway and put up a few hoops. We got a bit of money and cooked some smoked pork and had a tournament. The first year we had maybe 10 or 12 teams…The third year it started to get some momentum.”

Gruber said the event got support from area officials and O.O. McIntyre Park District allowed for a basketball court to be built on land near Ohio 554 and Depot Street.

“I grew up going to Mount Caramel and just started going to Vinton Baptist so I reached out to see if Mount Caramel wanted on board because I knew quite a few people out there,” said Allen. “They both are going together to serve the community of Bidwell. I’m just a bridge and it’s an honor to be able to help. We just want to shed light on Bidwell in a positive note.”

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright