Readers’ Choices for Summer Fun!

camp spotlight shocoo springs Blob on the lake

Special Feature

Congratulations to our Readers’ Choice Winners for Summer Family Fun!

Thank you to all of our readers who participated in our Readers’ Choice Survey! As a thank you for taking the survey, reader Rachael Montgomery from Birmingham won four tickets to Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure!

Liberty Bell at American VillageCongratulations to the American Village for being the Readers’ Choice for Favorite Summer Entertainment Spot AND Recreation Spot! American Village in Montevallo welcomes you to enjoy red, white, and blue fun all summer long. From August 1-31, enjoy free self-guided walking tours of the 188-acre campus. For a complete schedule of  events, visit

camp spotlight shocoo springs Blob on the lakeCongratulations to Shocco Springs Camp & Conference Center for being our Readers’ Choice for Favorite Summer Camp! Centrally located on over 900 acres in Talladega, Alabama, Shocco Springs is an all-inclusive camp and conference center where you can relax and unwind in God’s incredible nature while holding your church or school group’s next event. Shocco Springs has an abundant selection of meeting spaces, lodging facilities and dining choices, whether you need space for 10 or 1400. Learn more at

summer guide greater gadsden noccalula 3Greater Gadsden Tourism is our Readers’ Choice for Favorite Summer Travel Spot! The area includes Noccalula Falls Park and Campground with hiking and biking on the black creek trails, an animal habitat, botanical gardens, and the spectacular falls cascading over 90 feet into the Black Creek ravine! For updates on offerings all summer long in Greater Gadsden, visit

For more ideas on Family Fun click here.

2021 22 Divinity Beauty of God Conference 1200x50050 1

Special Feature

On October 24-25, pastors, worship leaders, visual artists and musicians are invited to join in learning from and interacting with a diverse group of experienced practitioners and speakers who will focus attention on the beauty of the Triune God whom Christian people gather to worship and adore. Worship, informative talks, breakout sessions, meals and informal conversations will provide opportunities to deepen your understanding on how the beauty of God’s love is manifested through the ministries of preaching, worship, and the arts. Conference guests will hear from several featured speakers including:

  • Daniel Cason is an ordained minister, concert pianist and a former high school music teacher. He received his formal education at the Cleveland Music School Settlement (Rainey Institute), the renowned Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Southern California (ISOMATA), where he studied master classes with Lee Thompson of the Julliard School of Music. Cason holds two earned music degrees (Bachelor of Arts and Masters) from MTC School of Theology.
  • Joe Cory is associate professor of art and design for Samford University’s School of the Arts and faculty fellow of the Center for Worship and the Arts. He is an accomplished artist and educator who has been using a mix of traditional and innovative teaching methods for over 15 years to help students learn artistic skills and think creatively. As an educator, practicing artist, former gallery director, and leader of the non-profit CIVA | Christians in the Visual Arts, he’s gained extensive experience in all facets of the art world.
  • Cliff Duren is the worship pastor at First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA. He also writes, arranges, orchestrates and produces music resources for various publishers while also producing various artist recordings. He is a five-time Dove Award winner for his contributions in Christian music.
  • Matt Papa, a veteran songwriter and Christian musician, has carved an even more unique space for himself as one of the world’s top modern-day hymn writers. With songs like, “His Mercy Is More,” “Christ Our Hope In Life And Death” and “Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery,” Matt tours regularly across the U.S. as a songwriter with Getty Music and frequently guests on their tours. A two-time Dove Award nominated artist, Matt is on a mission to write songs that are singable, beautiful, and timeless. He serves as an artist-in-residence at Cedarville University and Marco Presbyterian Church.

Other featured speakers include John D. Witvliet, Kevin Twit, Debra Dean Murphy, Overflow, and Tyshawn Gardner. Early bird rates of $59/individual or $47/person for a group of 3 or more are on sale through August 31, 2022. General admission of $89/individual or $71/person for a group of 3 or more starts Sept. 1, 2022. The conference will be held at Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive Birmingham, AL 35229. To purchase tickets, click here.

Cows dancing

Special Feature

Birmingham Christian Family (BCF) celebrated 22 years of GOOD NEWS at the Celebrate the Family Expo on May 7, 2022. Here are just a few of the highlights from the free day of family fun at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex!

Laurie with Mayor BrocatoCity of Hoover Mayor Frank Bracato helped us kick off the day of fun.

child with Cow The Chick-fil-A Herd of Cows danced with Expo attendees and handed out plush cows! The minions even stopped by for a visit and took photos with attendees!

Line at Welcome DeskEach attendee received a Birthday Bingo sheet when they arrived. Every booth had a special stamp and if attendees filled out three rows of stamps by visiting each booth, they were entered to receive great prizes like a $100 Walmart gift card courtesy of WAY-FM, cases of cookies from Bud’s Best Cookies, and so much more!

Kevin Derryberry PerformingLive music, praising God, was enjoyed by all thanks to Kevin Derryberry!

Boy with face paintedChildren enjoyed getting their faces painted for free, courtesy of Painted Personalities!

Laurie with Liam and Virginia2022 BCF Scholarship Winner Virginia Balogh and Runner-Up Liam Long received their college scholarship certificates at the Expo! Balogh plans to attend the University of Tennessee and Long plans to attend UAB. Be on the lookout for our 2023 Scholarship Opportunity soon.

Child climbing rock wallInflatables from Deborah’s Party Rentals were a huge hit! The 18-foot climbing wall from Mountain High Outfitters attracted Expo attendees of all ages!

Banks Academy performingThe Banks Academy Tension Choir and Pulse performed live at the Expo!

Food trucks at ExpoExpo attendees enjoyed delicious food from Krazy Good BBQ, Street Bowlz, and Steel City Pops!

Dog at ExpoAdorable adoptable dogs from the Shelby County Humane Society joined in on the fun day!


Special thanks to our Title Sponsor: First Priority and Priority Kids, and our Major Sponsors: Collins Group and Shades Mountain Baptist Church for making the Expo a reality and sharing great family resources and giveaways! For more pictures from the event, click here.Collins Group Table Shades Mountain Baptist Church TableFirst Priority Table


Samford School of Ed 2021 22 Education Corts Social Graphics Twitter 1

Special Feature

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education will host New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin for the 11th annual Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series on April 5.

Beginning at 7 p.m. in Samford’s Brock Recital Hall, Martin will share the one thing he wants his son, a Samford freshman, to know. Pulling from his exploration of biblical truths in his book What If It’s True?: A Storyteller’s Journey With Jesus, Martin will share key moments from the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as key moments from his own journey as a disciple of Christ. In his book, Martin addresses fundamental questions of faith to challenge readers to not just think differently, but live differently.

What If Its True Cover ArtWhen asked what inspired him to write What If It’s True?, Martin says, “Pretty simple. If scripture is true, and Jesus really said what scripture says He said (and I believe He did) then who does that make Him, who does that make me and why don’t I live like I believe it?” Martin hopes that through his journey of exploration readers will experience true belief, freedom and real intimacy with the Father.

Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of 16 novels. One of his novels, The Mountain Between Us, was adapted into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox in 2017 and another, Long Way Gone, is in the pre-production stage to be made into a film. In addition to: What If It’s True?, Martin is the author of another non-fiction book titled They Turned the World Upside Down. His work has been translated into more than 35 languages in more than 40 countries around the world. He and his wife Christy have been married 28 years and live in Jacksonville, Fla.

Special Feature Samford School of Ed Corts Charles Martin
Hear from Charles Martin on April 5 at Samford University. Click here for tickets.

Martin will be joined by friend and fellow New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry. Henry was the 10th anniversary Corts Distinguished Author and will return to introduce Martin and share insights from her new book Once Upon a Wardrobe released in October 2021.

General admission tickets are $25 for the public and complimentary for Samford students and employees. A book signing will follow the presentation. VIP tickets are $75 and include a private reception, special seating, a book by each author and a book signing with Martin and Henry at 5:30 p.m. Prepare to be captivated as Martin and Henry share inspiration that will encourage you to engage your faith in new ways. Tickets are available here. †


Festival of Tulips

Are We There Yet?

The 6th Annual American Village Festival of Tulips is officially open!

3 Girls picking tulips
You can pick your own tulips (including the bulbs). Tulips are $2 plus tax.

Stroll through a field of tens of thousands of tulips, in all the colors of the rainbow. Pick the ones you want to keep – tulips are $2.00 each plus tax, and include both flower and bulb. Bring your family and friends and don’t forget your camera. The tulips and the American Village’s beautiful campus create a one-of-a-kind backdrop for photos.

Forty different varieties and blends of tulips were planted at the American Village in early December 2021. Favorites such as Banja Luka (striped yellow/red), Gentle Giants (mixed pinks), Thanks and Praise (white and yellow mix) and Queen of Night (dark maroon) are back for the 2022 Festival. New varieties making their first appearance include Tom Pouce (fuchsia/yellow), Velvet Ondergrond (red/yellow/white Parrot tulip) and Parade Design (red with variegated foliage). There are early, mid-season and late blooming varieties, so whenever you come there will be a great selection of flowers.

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The 6th Annual Festival of Tulips will have 40 varieties of tulips for you to enjoy!

The American Village will be open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m.-4 p.m. once the Festival of Tulips begins (weather permitting). Admission to the Festival of Tulips will be $5 per person. If you are visiting on a weekday, you can also explore the American Village’s 188-acre campus and take a self-guided tour of the more than 20 historically inspired buildings. Additionally, there will be entertainment in the tulip field. The American Village costumed historical interpreters will have scheduled performances Monday-Sunday. Entertainment will include a puppet show, an American Revolutionary War soldier’s encampment, and encounters with patriots of the past.

When visiting the Festival of Tulips enter the front gate at the American Village and follow the signs to the parking lot directly beside the tulip field. You’ll pay admission and pay for the tulips you pick at the field. To find out more information, visit us online at or follow the American Village Facebook page. †


bigstock Christmas gift boxes laid out 210459529

Publisher’s Note

Merry Christmas to You- Our Readers!

As we celebrate the Christmas season, all of us at Birmingham Christian Family wanted to do something special for readers like you who read and spread Good News with your family and friends each month- either sharing a print issue or reading and sharing one of our articles on-line. So, get ready to enjoy our Jingle All the Way Reader Giveaways!

The fun starts on Black Friday, November 27 with 4 Weeks of Great Christmas Give-A-Ways all valued at $250 or more!

Christmas at Dollywood
Christmas at Dollywood

Week 1 Family Four Pack of Tickets to Dollywood,

Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Week 2 VIP Family 4 Pack to Beyond Van Gogh at the BJCC,


Trak Shak Logo

Week 3 $250 Trak Shak Gift Card to use at any area Track Shak,

Filson Blanket from Marks Outdoors
Filson Blanket from Marks Outdoors

Week 4 Luxurious Filson Wool Blanket from Mark’s Outdoors Vestavia,

To be entered to win the giveaways, LIKE and SHARE the giveaway post and TAG 3 friends in the comments.

For extra entries, FOLLOW us on Instagram @cfpbirmingham and/or SUBSCRIBE to Birmingham Christian Family’s (BCF) E-news/online subscription at If you already subscribe to our E-news, message BCF your email address on Facebook to receive the extra entry.

WINNERS for each giveaway will be announced EVERY THURSDAY on Facebook, December 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2021. So be sure to LIKE our page @Birmingham Christian Family. A NEW GIVEAWAY begins EVERY FRIDAY– November 26, December 3. 10, and 17, 2021.

A BIG THANK YOU to our advertising partners who make the gift giving possible and most importantly help us share the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ with readers and followers every day of the year!

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Faither, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Laurie Stroud Franklin, Publisher-Laurie Stroud Franklin

Founder, The Christian Family Publication, Inc.

Facebook: Birmingham Christian Family

Twitter: @cfpBirmingham

Instagram: @cfpbirmingham

Pinterest: @cfpbirmingham

LinkedIn: Birmingham Christian Family

Celebrating 21 Years of Good News!

“Look to the Lord & His Strength, Seek His face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:11 (Holman Standard)

Brenda Gantt On Stage

Special Feature

Alabama Cooking celebrity, Brenda Gantt came to Shelby County and wowed the crowd of 300 who came to see her all in the name of charity. The “Barbecue with Brenda” raised $33,000 for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Shelby County.

Brenda Gantt
Brenda Gantt shares her faith story here. Photos: Alfadavis

After a barbecue lunch at The Grande Hall at Mill Square, former news anchor and now publisher of Birmingham Christian Family Magazine, Laurie Stroud Franklin interviewed Brenda. The crowd enjoyed hearing about her newfound fame, her daily schedule, her favorite meals, her family, and her deep-rooted faith in God. Her homespun stories with her thick southern drawl lured her fans in closely as she told stories of her faith, her food, and her skillet skills.

When asked what her best meal is– one that she would serve if Jesus were coming to her house she said, “fried chicken, black-eyed peas, sliced tomatoes and fried okra.” Her favorite food to eat is chicken and dumplings. The first thing she encourages people to learn to cook is biscuits, “because then you can make so many other things like fried pies and dumplings,” Gantt said. Click here to find some of Gantt’s recipes.

Audience listening to Brenda Gantt
Brenda Gantt encouraged the audience to lift up others. She also mentioned some of her favorite recipes, including lacy cornbread.

Her daily schedule begins at 4 a.m. each day and her goal is to always to be a “lifter,” something she encouraged the audience members to be. “We need to lift each other up and be an encouragement to others,” said Gantt. Gantt’s first cookbook, It’s Gonna Be Good Ya’ll was recently released by Hoffman Media of Birmingham. Gantt said it took many hours to translate her stories and recipes.

She became a social media sensation during the pandemic when some young men in her church asked her to teach their wives to make biscuits. She made a video, posted it on Facebook and it went viral. Within two weeks, she had 1 million followers on her Facebook page – an accomplishment many national celebrities don’t have.

Carol Hill, an attendee at the event said, “Brenda Gantt was a great lunch hostess and a phenomenal speaker.  She was just like I expected her to be, genuine, gracious and kind.” Hill added her deep appreciation for Gantt coming to Shelby County to help such a worthy cause.

The proceeds from the event went to the Shelby County Court Appointed Special Advocates of Shelby County (CASA). CASA’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect and to recruit and train volunteers to go through the court process with children who have been abused or neglected. They also offer several parenting classes throughout the year. Their goal is to ensure that every child has a safe and permanent home. CASA is funded in part by the Children’s Trust Fund, a Shelby County Community grant, local foundations, and the kindness of many individuals. To see how you can become a CASA Volunteer, visit

-Beth Chapman

Director, CASA of Shelby County

Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Are We There Yet?

Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Imagine being completely immersed in more than 300 of the greatest works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. Now imagine experiencing all of this art liberated from its two-dimensional limitations into a three-dimensional experience that exhilarates every sense and brings to life one of the most influential artists the world has known. It’s all part of Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience a sensory extravaganza that is open at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, North Exhibition Hall 1 through January 2. Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience was created by French-Canadian Creative Director Mathieu St-Arnaud and his team at Montreal’s world-renowned Normal Studio.

While journeying through Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience guests witness more than 300 iconic masterpieces, including such instantly recognizable classics as “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” and ‘Café Terrace at Night,” as well many revealing self-portraits. Prices start at $32.99 for adults and $21.99 for children, plus ticketing fees. This world-renowned art experience will be open for a limited-time. Tickets, which will sell out quickly, are on sale now at Masks are recommended while inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.

Inside Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Visit Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Birmingham through January 2. Tickets are available at Click here for details on Van Gogh Reader Giveaway.

“An imaginative and fully-immersive adventure, Beyond Van Gogh takes on the challenge of breathing new life into Van Gogh’s vast body of work. Through the use of cutting-edge 3D projection technology and music to illuminate all of his genius, guests can experience the artist with all their senses,” says Mathieu St-Arnaud, Normal Studio. Guests are transported into Van Gogh’s world through an all new, exclusively designed space comprised of three areas that segue fluidly into each other. The Education Room leads into the unique Waterfall Room which flows into the Immersive Experience Room. Freed from their frames, Van Gogh’s spectacular paintings appear on projection-swathed walls inviting guests to fully immerse themselves into the incredible detail of his work and be enveloped in his ever-shifting, swirling and colorful flowers, cafes and stunning landscapes. And, hearing the artist’s own dreams, thoughts and words set to a symphonic score drives an unmatched narrative experience.

“This distinctive and unique multimedia artistic adventure is deeply resonating with audiences. Encompassing a refreshing new twist unlike art lovers have seen before, Beyond Van Gogh gives a new appreciation of this tortured artist’s stunning work. Unsurprisingly millions of people all over the world credit Van Gogh with enhancing their relationship with art. Beyond Van Gogh will only strengthen that connection,” says Justin Paquin, co-producer, Paquin Entertainment.

Cinematic Van Gogh exhibitions have crossed the ocean from European cities to North America in recent years and met with great critical acclaim, with sold-out audiences in every market. Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience continues to amaze audiences and will stay in Birmingham for a limited engagement before moving across North America. Art lovers near and far will have the opportunity to live this truly unique and unforgettable experience. For more information, visit †

As a part of BCF’s Jingle All the Way Reader Giveaways, we are giving away VIP tickets($250 value!) to Beyond Van Gogh. Click here for details on how you can enter.



Special Feature

Experience live at The Lyric Theatre, The Sound of Music reimagined as a ballet, inspired by music from the 1965 musical film, and the von Trapp family’s life story. You don’t want to miss this one day only ballet performance by The Dance Studio on Saturday, November 20 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. “We are excited about bringing this timeless classic to the city of Birmingham completely reimagined and full of dance at the beautiful Lyric Theatre,” said Jaclyn Shiflett, Artistic Director. “This beautiful ballet includes 27 young dancers from communities throughout the City of Birmingham.”

Brandon Barranco
The highly renowned dancer and teacher Brandon Barranco will play the role of Captain von Trapp in the November 20 ballet performances at the Lyric.

Students of The Dance Studio have auditioned and been cast as characters from the story and have been hard at work learning choreography with Artistic Director Jaclyn Shiflett and guest star Brandon Barranco, who is dancing the role of Captain von Trapp. Barranco works as a professional dancer, choreographer and actor. As a performer he has been featured in productions such as Swan Lake, Dancing With The Stars Tour, Sidewalk Film Festival Awards Show and most recently Cabaret the Musical. Teaching since 2006, Barranco has been recognized as one of the best in the country. His choreography credits include hit productions of Annie, Footloose, The Producers, Bye Bye Birdie, Into the Woods among others. His film credits include featured roles on the SyFy, TLC networks and lead roles for several indie films.

The Lyric was once the finest performing arts theatre in Birmingham and through its $11.8 million restoration, it is again. Listed on the National Register as part of the Birmingham Downtown Retail & Theatre Historic District, this century-old venue is a beacon of history, entertainment, and culture in the heart of Birmingham. The theatre offers a wider stage and closer audience—better suited for performing arts such as the symphony, ballet, opera and theatre. The Lyric should always be thought of primarily as a performing arts theatre and is an unequaled venue for live performances of all types. The Sound of Music is the first ballet performed at the Lyric Theater since the pandemic. Tickets are only $15 but seating is limited. Purchase your tickets online now at †

*GIVEAWAY CLOSED* Birmingham Christian Family is giving TWO WINNERS two tickets to experience this timeless classic reimagined as a ballet. In addition to tickets, each winner will receive a gift basket filled with great items! Sound of Music Gift Basket Giveaway #1 includes: OHenry’s Coffee Basket with Coffee Products, Two Tickets to the Evening Performance of the Sound of Music the Ballet  (6pm), Includes Two Sound of Music Coffee Mugs,  a pair of ballet pointe shoes signed by the cast of the Sound of Music and a Sound of Music Christmas Ornament. Sound of Music Gift Basket Giveaway #2 includes: OHenry’s Coffee Basket with Coffee Products,  Two Tickets to the Matinee Performance of the Sound of Music the Ballet  (2pm), Two Sound of Music Coffee Mugs,  a pair of ballet pointe shoes signed by the cast of the Sound of Music and a Sound of Music Christmas Ornament! To learn how to enter the giveaway, click here.

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TO SAY THANK YOU for reading and supporting the businesses and organizations that advertise with Birmingham Christian Family(BCF) and make spreading Good News possible we have TWO Great Giveaways this month!

Sound of Music at the Lyric! TWO WINNERS will receive two tickets to experience live at The Lyric Theatre this timeless classic reimagined as a ballet and performed by students of The Dance Studio on Saturday November 20, In addition to tickets, the winners will receive a gift basket filled with great items! Sound of Music Gift Basket Giveaway #1 includes: OHenry’s Coffee Basket with Coffee Products, Two Tickets to the Evening Performance of the Sound of Music the Ballet  (6pm), Includes Two Sound of Music Coffee Mugs,  a pair of ballet pointe shoes signed by the cast of the Sound of Music and a Sound of Music Christmas Ornament. Sound of Music Gift Basket Giveaway #2 includes: OHenry’s Coffee Basket with Coffee Products,  Two Tickets to the Matinee Performance of the Sound of Music the Ballet  (2pm), Two Sound of Music Coffee Mugs,  a pair of ballet pointe shoes signed by the cast of the Sound of Music and a Sound of Music Christmas Ornament!

To enter simply LIKE and SHARE the Giveaway Post on our Facebook Page and FOLLOW BCF. For EXTRA ENTRIES:

1. SUBSCRIBE to receive your free digital issue of BCF at
2. FOLLOW US on Instagram @cfpbirmingham
Offer ends 11/15/21. Winner announced 11/16/21 on Facebook so be sure to LIKE our page!

Christmas at the Station! Take a daytime Christmas train ride from Heart of Dixie Railroad in Calera. Includes a family four pack of tickets. Simply LIKE and SHARE the Giveaway Post on our Facebook Page and FOLLOW BCF. For EXTRA ENTRIES:
3. TAG a friend you would like to take with you!
4. SUBSCRIBE to receive your free digital issue of BCF at
5. FOLLOW US on Instagram @cfpbirmingham
Offer ends 11/23/21. Winners announced 11/24/21 on Facebook so be sure to LIKE our page!

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