The Current asked IGRC congregations to share their stories on Alternative Christmas celebrations. Here are the responses we received:
Bloomington Wesley UMC will launch its first ever Alternative Christmas Market on Dec. 5 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Wesley Fellowship Hall. The event is open to Wesley worshipers and the general public, sponsored by Wesley's Missions Committee.
At the Market you will find eleven shopping booths where you may purchase gifts to honor your friends and family. Also, you will spread joy to people in this community and around the world through local and global organizations of your choice.
As examples, your swarm of honey bees will go through Heifer International to a family either in the U. S. or abroad who needs to have a source of income; your gift of $20 will purchase Blood Pressure medicine for 33 patients through the Community Health Care Clinic.
The market list goes on and on and you have either received it at Sunday worship or by checking the church website: www.Wesley-umc.com
Copies are also available in the church office.
On Market Day, Dec. 5, you can have fun making your choices, talking with agency folks at their booths, making your donation, and receiving beautiful gift cards to put under the Christmas trees of your loved ones. As a bonus, lunch will be available in Wesley Hall at noon.
How much easier could Christmas shopping be? Of course, if you're like me, you may struggle over who among the family receives the spitting llama or Habitat's kitchen sink with a hammer thrown in for good luck. But I have no problem knowing who would be joyous over Twas the Night Before Christmas books in her name for The Baby Fold children.
Bettie W. Story, Member
The Missions Committee
Bloomington Wesley UMC
Vermilion River District
The Jesus Box is placed at the foot of the Christmas Tree in the Bridgeport church sanctuary.
Last year, I challenged our people to tithe the amount of money they planned on spending for themselves and family for Christmas and place the tithe in the Jesus Box. They were encouraged to designate their funds to one of a list of charitable causes. We had overwhelming support to this idea.
In fact, if this was their tithe on what they spent then the economy would have had a significant increase. They gave far more than a 10th of what they spent. Many testified that they gave a large about over what they spent for family, etc.
The Box is ready.
The tradition is established.
God knows where this is going this year.
Pastor, Bridgeport-Petrolia UMC
Kaskaskia River District
Tuscola UMC held an alternative gift market this year for the first time Nov. 17, at the same time as our annual Chili for Chaddock event.
In all, $1,500 was collected for eight different mission projects, some Advance specials as well as local projects the church supports.
People were invited to make donations to whichever projects they want to support, and a card was given to the donor, which in turn, can be given to someone for Christmas, indicating that a gift was given in that person’s honor to whichever project.
The projects offered were:
I know this isn’t a new idea, but it’s a good way to touch people’s hearts during a season when we tend to be more open to giving for others.
Pastor, Tuscola UMC
Iroquois River District
In 2005 Patti Smith set out to provide Christmas for her son and the 40 Marines in his platoon. It ended up that 200 Christmas stockings were sent. The next year, the project grew and 10,000 Christmas stockings were sent and it has continued to grow with 35,000 Christmas stockings being sent in 2009.
On Oct. 31, the Waynesville UMC laid hands on and consecrated 321 Christmas stockings, 285 cards, and 99 pounds of gifts along with $485 in cash to be sent to Operation Santa. The materials were delivered to the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington Nov. 1.
This was joint community ministry involving the ladies and youth from the quilting ministry at the Waynesville United Methodist Church, the Waynesville American Legion, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion, the Women of Waynesville, and people from the Y in Clinton.
Pastor, Waynesville-McLean UMC
Vermilion River District
Related story: 12 Ways of Christmas Giving...