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Fusion music fest held, but with modifications

Attendees of Middlecreek Christian Church’s Fusion music festival sat under tent canopies on the hillside or at picnic tables under the pavilion as Doug Malefyt sang and played the guitar late Saturday afternoon.

Malefyt, a musician and member of East Stroudsburg United Methodist Church, was one of five performers.

As Malefyt sang, 13-year-old Wyatt Lenig played a game of Uno at a picnic table with his sister, 11-year-old Andie Lenig, and their grandparents, Charlie and Deanna Schoeneberger. They all live in Wind Gap and are members of Middlecreek Christian Church.

“We come every year to Fusion. I love the food, games and the movie at Fusion,” Wyatt Lenig said.

More than 20 years ago, church members took the youth group to Creation Festival, a four-day event including Christian music, prayer, seminars, camping, sports activities and dance parties in Shirleysburg.

“One year we could not go for some reason, so we decided to bring that type of event here to Kresgeville,” said Marcy Cetnar, chairwoman of the Fusion planning committee.

They hosted the first Fusion in 2001.

“Fusion is an opportunity to promote our faith in Christ through music, prayer and our meal,” said Pastor Steven Boothe, who has ministered at the church for 7½ years.

This is the church’s 19th year hosting Fusion, which is usually a Friday through Sunday event including some attendees camping in RVs and tents at the church, three days of music, a buffet dinner, making s’mores over a campfire, movie night, Bible study and ends with Sunday morning worship.

“We felt that we needed to get out of the house and come together. We want to unite the community for fellowship and to worship God. This is a free event, a reach out to the community,” Cetnar said.

This year, Fusion had to be modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt it was prudent to shorten it this year,” said committee member Amy Hillanbrand.

She and Cetnar said it was very important to have some form of Fusion because of all the other cancellations that have occurred since March. They wanted to provide continuity and a fun-filled event for the community.

This year, it was shortened to a one-day event, with no camping or making s’mores.

“We miss the camping aspect. We usually bring our RV and camp Friday through Sunday,” Wyatt Lenig said.

This year’s theme was Uniting Together in Christ. It comes from Psalms 133:1, which says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Fusion began at 2 p.m. Saturday with music from William Bock, a member of Cornerstone Community Church in Polk Township. It included two 15-minute Uniting Together in Prayer segments, dinner, the movie “Overcomer,” and concluded with a campfire Bible study from 10:30 to 11 p.m.

“Everyone pulls together to make this event happen. It is a true church community event,” Boothe said.

Fusion planning committee member Gwen Haines and a few other volunteers sat at the registration table. She greeted attendees, who had their temperatures taken on the forehead and selected their meal items on the meal ticket.

This year’s meal could not be served buffet-style.

Instead, Vince Mowrey and his team of cooks had to “prepackage the food in containers so no one had to touch it and try to do everything as safely as possible.”

Mowrey, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has been a member of Middlecreek Christian Church for six years.

“I like to help at all our events,” he said.

There were signs reminding guests to maintain 6 feet of social distance and to wear masks, especially outside the kitchen area when receiving food and beverages.

On Sunday morning, Boothe preached outside at 10:30 a.m., closing out this year’s Fusion.

“We worked very hard to keep the church open. This virus has caused so many negative things, but one of the positives is how we come together to worship God,” Haines said.

During the shutdown, Boothe and others filmed the Sunday morning worship services and broadcast them on their website, www.middlecreekchurch.org, and on their Facebook page.

“It has been awesome. Boothe has preached to people in Switzerland, Wyoming and other areas, not just to our members here,” Haines said.

Boothe estimated the congregation size is 100 people or fewer.

Worship has resumed in the sanctuary, but with modifications.

“We sit every other pew, and only at the ends. Families sit together.”

Virtual worship remains an option for those who do not wish to gather in the sanctuary.

Even in a year marked by COVID-19 modifications, Fusion is all about “the togetherness. People that I don’t know coming together” for worship and fellowship, Mowrey said.

Marcy Cetnar, chairwoman of the Fusion planning committee, grills hot dogs next to her son, Brett, during Middlecreek Christian Church's Fusion music festival on Saturday. Fusion began in 2001 and is a smaller-scale spinoff of the Creation Festival in Shirleysburg. STACI L. GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS