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Seeking to 'Bless the 93307, ' east Bakersfield church preps kids for school

St. John Missionary Baptist Church hosted a large back-to-school event Saturday on its Brundage Lane campus, where it gave away backpacks and other school supplies to neighborhood children. (KBAK/KBFX)

St. John Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday hosted a back-to-school event at its Brundage Lane campus, where neighborhood children were provided free backpacks, haircuts and other school supplies in advance of their return to school on Wednesday.

The event is part of a campaign the church has to 'Bless the 93307," the zip code in which it meets. Kids zigzagged through a maze of tents, picking up another set of supplies at each stop to add to their backpack.

The church also invited a variety of social service organizations to a resource fair that connected families to other means of support for the school year.

"We know that there are are a lot of families out there that are in need as we prepare to go back to school so we want to make sure that we give them a helping hand so that they at least have some of what they need," said event organizer Hope Gilkey.

Though the service projects were not interrupted, Saturday's event was among the first since the church resolved an internal conflict that began in 2013 and required multiple trips to court.

At issue was the result of a contested vote by the congregation about the future of its leadership. It took years and a state appellate court, but two weeks ago church officials said the matter was finally settled with no changes to the pulpit.

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