First Baptist Church threw open its doors Saturday for its first Ministry Fair, and invited the public to come find out what it's all about and eat a free tri-tip lunch.

"We want the community to be aware of what we have to offer," said Pastor John Lopez.

Individuals of all faiths came to learn about the many programs offered at First Baptist Church, such as the Women of Balance, which is planning two special events: The Harvest Fun and Fellowship in October and the Christmas Tea in December.

"On Sept. 22, we are hosting our Western Roundup for all the people who are not going to church anywhere, and invite them to come here," said Nita Lopez, wife of Pastor John Lopez and director of the adult choir.

Asked about the many new programs now found at First Baptist Church, Nita said, "Well, we want to not be a church within our walls. We want to be outside our walls."

The music department continues to grow under the tutelage of Nita Lopez, including a Children's Choir, directed by Darlene Brown, which will begin Sept. 15. Practices will be held every Sunday afternoon between 1 to 1:45 p.m., and will include a free pizza lunch for children served before choir practice at 12:30 p.m.

"The children will be performing with the adult choir and the handbell choir at Christmas time," said Nita. "We will have a big program and the children will be dressed up. All are welcome, and it's free to join."

Anyone who plays an instrument is invited to contact the church and join the choirs.

Another popular weekly event that First Baptist hosts is the Together Men's Bible Study for men of all faiths each Tuesday at 6 p.m. For the past five years, men from churches throughout Tehachapi join together for a time of ministry, discipleship and Bible study.

"We get 80 to 100 guys all over town each week," said Daryl Ragsdale.

According to several members of the men's group, the weekly meetings have altered the destiny of their lives.

"I started coming here about four years ago," said Alex Valencia. "It has transformed my life in ways that I can't even explain. It's been an amazing thing to see God work in my life and in the lives of many other men. I would tell every man in Tehachapi to be there on Tuesdays, and reach their God-given potential."

For those who like to sew, First Baptist hosts a monthly sewing group called David's Cradle, which creates funeral attire for infants. The group currently has 20 volunteers, but more volunteers are always needed.

"Not only do we have David's Cradle, but we are now working with Angel Gowns and the American Cancer Society," said Patti Browne, founder of the group. "It's growing more and more."

The group will next meet Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m.

Said Pastor Lopez, "This is our first fair, but we are hoping it will continue to grow in years to come."

First Baptist Church is located at 1049 S. Curry St., and can be reached by calling 822-3138. For more information, visit