Bluegrass Saturdays support local outreach

Cornelius Presbyterian is known to some as the "church with the bluegrass," and Pastor Carl Dumford said he likes that.

Soon after he became senior pastor more than four years ago, Dumford helped start Bluegrass Saturdays, in which the church invites the community to free bluegrass concerts on its front lawn on August weekends.

This year's Bluegrass Saturdays will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. each Saturday in August.

The event is becoming a community institution. Attendance has doubled from its initial average of 75 to 100 people, said church treasurer Jon Guttman.

The church sets up tents to shade the August sun, and this year members will sell barbecue and ribs. The proceeds will help the church's ministry for community children, including a children's music program and parents' night out.

About 100 chairs are set out, and attendees are invited to bring blankets and chairs. Children are welcome.

While Cornelius Presbyterian once had to invite bluegrass bands to play, bands now ask the church to be on the program, Guttman said. Many play for free.

Guttman said Dumford has brought to the church an emphasis on community outreach, such as free neighborhood cookouts that draw more than 100 people.

"We've been a fixture in Cornelius for more than 100 years, and our roots are in this community, so it's this community we want to reach out to," Guttman said.

Dumford said the church wants to be known in the community, and the church is growing. It hosts two Sunday services - contemporary and traditional - and is offering leadership and other classes.

For information about Cornelius Presbyterian, which is at 21209 Catawba Ave., Cornelius, and Bluegrass Saturdays, visit

A Deeper Shade of Blue will perform Saturday; Darin & Brooke Aldridge will perform Aug. 20; and Davidson Express will play Aug. 27.