Story 73 - Christmas Outreach 2020
Leyland and Wigan Baptist Churches
Sandra Crawford is one of the ministers at both Leyland and Wigan Baptist churches. With both hats on, here she shares the encouraging Story of Christmas Outreach in 2020
“One of the frustrations of lockdown has been the challenge of keeping in touch with families, particularly those connected to a church through children’s groups and not connected on a Sunday. However, earlier in 2020, as I was praying about our families (that sounds spiritual doesn't it -actually I was grumbling to God - still prayer I hastened to add!) I felt a nudge from God about rethinking faith at home. How could we encourage families to explore faith together in their home?
During lockdown we have sent out once a month a Messy Church bag but for Advent we wanted to take this to another level. So, encouraged by a Facebook group idea, we put together an Advent Journey Bag. Each bag contained four envelopes, one for each week of advent and each envelope contained something to do on each day. There were also five small wrapped gifts and a small booklet to accompany it explaining what to do each day.
The five small gifts: advent Crown to make on day one, a small piece of Oasis and five birthday candles, small wooden heart, dove, star, and a painted baby Jesus Pebble.
Each week there was:-
A simple craft which resulted in a mini homemade Nativity by the end of Advent.
Prayer focus and activities.
A sticker activity
A mindful reflection activity
A sharing activity e.g. hot chocolate sachet (here's a hug in a mug for you to share!)
And encouragement activity eg write, text, phone someone.
We hand delivered a bag to 110 homes. They were designed to be used by people who lived on their own or those who lived with families. We also delivered two bumper boxes to residential homes for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs with whom we had worked closely before lockdown.
We had to deliver the bags weeks early as we were about to go into a further lockdown and the response was overwhelming. Within a few days over 60% of people emailed, texted and phoned and said thanks for a great idea, thanks for thinking of us, thanks for cheering us up. And so the journey through Advent began. We expected families to enjoy participating what we didn't expect was the engagement by some of our older folk who lived alone. They said it gave them a reason to ring someone else and ask what they had found in their bag that day.
I was initially concerned about the cost, but we put much of it together from bits and pieces left over from five years of Messy Church, each bag cost less than £2.00 in total. Faith at home is important for all of us. If there's one thing we've learned from lockdown, it is the need to sustain our own spiritual walk and not become reliant on being spoon fed every Sunday morning. So, the next task is to think of a similar but a different idea for Lent. This time it will need to be posted out as we cannot visit due to lockdown.