CORUNNA — For many years, Immanuel Baptist Church has held an annual “Spirit of 1776” service, commemorating the likes of George Washington and the many patriots that fought to achieve American independence from Britain.
While past celebrations have included a specialized revolutionary sermon and a live Revolutionary War reenactment, this year’s proceedings — scheduled for Sunday — will have an added boost in the form of food trucks, live gospel music and a fireworks show on church grounds, 2680 E. M-21.
The revolutionary-themed sermon and subsequent reenactment will run from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday. Evening activities, including live gospel music and food trucks in the church parking lot, will begin at 6 p.m., with the fireworks show kicking off at dusk. Both events are open to the public.
Pastor Jason Georges said the idea to add the evening festivities at the church was sparked only two weeks ago, as church staff discussed the variety of cancellations caused by the coronavirus.
“We realized that fireworks shows were getting canceled this year (due to COVID-19) and we really wanted to do something positive for the community,” Georges said. “A lot of people made decisions about big summer events when we were still at the height of restrictions and there was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen this summer. Now that we see where we’re at right now (with fewer active virus cases in the county), our organization is nimble enough to be able to execute something like this quickly.”
In order to hold the fireworks show on their property, Immanuel Baptist Church had to submit a format request to the city of Corunna for approval, Georges said.
The Corunna City Council unanimously granted the church’s request to hold the aerial display June 15, after evaluating the church’s ability to adhere to social distancing and fire safety guidelines, City Planner/Assessor Merilee Lawson said.
The city previously canceled its Fourth of July fireworks celebration at McCurdy Park during a council meeting May 18, citing health and safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Lawson said the council’s decision to approve Immanuel Baptist’s request hinged largely upon the size of the event.
“It’s a much smaller scale,” Lawson said. “The Fourth of July is massive amounts of people and the city could not figure out any way to exercise social distancing for the amount of people that gather to see those fireworks.
“I think it’s great (they’re holding the event),” Lawson continued. “They have everything under control and they’re exercising social distancing.”
While Immanuel Baptist will allow people to drop-off attendees in a designated lane in front of the church, no on-site parking will be permitted for Sunday evening’s festivities, Georges said, as the parking lot will serve as a primary viewing area for the live music and subsequent fireworks display.
Attendees are encouraged to park in nearby parking lots and/or along surrounding streets, he said. Chairs and blankets will be permitted on church grounds for the event.
“We want to have enough space for people to spread out,” Georges said, noting the church property contains multiple acres of open field for individuals to safely distance. “It’s going to be an outdoor community event and people will be able to distance as much as they need to.”
Patriotic music and messages will also be broadcast to those within a 1-mile radius of the church through an FM transmitter, Georges said. People can listen to the broadcast by tuning their radios to 99.9 FM.
Immanuel Baptist is currently seeking sponsors and community donations to help support the event, which Georges estimates will cost the church a little over $10,000 between the fireworks, security, port-a-potties and staging equipment needed to make the celebration a success.
Area business and residents interested in making a donation may do so by calling the church at (989) 743-6700 or visiting immanuelalive.com.