By Shelley Koppel
MELBOURNE - Hope Episcopal Church is turning 25, and it will celebrate the event for an entire weekend Sept. 14-16. The whole community is invited to share in the festivities.
"Rockin' on Interlachen," a music tribute, will take place on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. Among the featured groups are the Hope Praise Band; Advent Lutheran's Disciple 13; The DOCK Kids from Brevard Neighborhood Development's Community Center in the Booker T. Washington neighborhood; the African Drum Circle and Gospel Band; Holy Trinity Academy's Honors Music Society; and Melbourne Church of Christ's Chorus.
Jean Diaz, music director of the church, said that music is an important part of the church throughout the year.
"We consider what we do each Sunday a ministry, rather than a performance. This 25th anniversary concert is an opportunity to reach out to our community and praise God together."
While the concert makes "a joyful noise," it also has a purpose grounded in helping those less fortunate.
Donations will be accepted for the Suntree/ Viera Area Association of Churches' Community Care Program. Non-perishable food items will be collected and donated to the Advent Lutheran Food Pantry.
Last fall, Hope Episcopal Church raised more than $1,000 and collected 20 pounds of food at its U2charist event.
Event coordinator Heather Barlow hopes to exceed that goal during this anniversary celebration.
"I have been blown away by the willingness of other churches in our community to help us celebrate 25 years of life," she said. "Our goal is to celebrate community by raising lots of food for the Advent's food pantry and funds for the "community care program."
Tough economic times have affected many families in our area," she added. "This is a fun way to come out and show your support, hear great music, meet your neighbors and experience God's love."
The weekend celebration continues on Sept. 16 with a 10 a.m. service. Marion Thullbery, the first pastor of the church and the first female priest in the Diocese of Central Florida, will be the special guest.
Following the service, there will be a spaghetti dinner and the community is welcome.
Hope Episcopal Church was founded in 1987. The first service was held on Sept. 13 of that year with Marion Thullbery as vicar.
In 1994, the church bought the present site. The sanctuary and multi-purpose room opened in 1997, and the Parish Hall, classrooms and relocated offices were completed in 2001.
The Rev. Deborah Vann, known as "Pastor Debbie," became rector of the church in 2009.
"Rockin' on Interlachen," a musical 25th anniversary celebration of Hope Episcopal Church, takes place on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the church, located at 190 Interlachen Road, Melbourne.
There is no cost to attend, although donations and non-perishable food items are welcome. Free refreshments will be provided.
For more information, call (321) 259-5810 or visit the website www.hopeepiscopalchurch.org.