St Lawrence’s Church in Lechlade has turned Halloween into a joyful annual event, engaging people of all ages with the Christian message of hope and building relationships with the wider worshipping community.
St Lawrence’s first set up a village pumpkin trail three years ago, which they call ‘Light on a dark night’, and the trail has become the village event every 31 October since.
The Revd Andrew Cinnamond says, “Building on existing relationships with children and families from our after-school and summer holiday clubs, we wanted to engage in a very practical way with Halloween, even though Christians sometimes have different views about the day!
“We recruit pumpkin hosts from church, via the local school and the worshipping community, with a clear brief that their carving has to be appropriate for pre-schoolers and primary age, with an emphasis on creativity, light, joy and generosity. We get lots of animal pumpkins, or mini worlds stuffed with Playmobil figures, as well as overtly Christian ones from the church participants.”
The pumpkin trail is publicised through the local school, noticeboards and also local Facebook groups. The locations are pinned anonymously on a Googlemap, which people can download from the church website or via a QR code. On Halloween, the church is open and offers children fresh popcorn, hot chocolate and bags containing sweets, eco sparklers, a Christian story and a light-themed craft.
Andrew says, “Every house with a pumpkin displays a poster inviting children to come to the church, and while not everyone chooses to do that, we had probably 200 children this year, as well as parents (and encouragingly lots of dads!) and grandparents – as well as our local police community support officers this year. We have amazing opportunities to chat with everyone and invite them to our Christingle workshop and service on the first Sunday in Advent so that they can celebrate Jesus, the light of the world.
“We were encouraged last year that we had far more families coming to Christingle and hearing a Gospel message than previously, and we have seen growing numbers at a weekly after-school club we offer in school and our summer holiday Bible club, so the pumpkin trail is simply a small part of building these links and pointing families to Jesus.
“It is also a great opportunity to speak with our church about intentionally reaching out to our community with the Gospel. One of the most encouraging things is that church members have grown in confidence to share their love for Jesus by displaying Christian-themed pumpkins.”
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