Photo: Robert Thiemann

 

By Emily Ferguson

In a year of challenge and change, Fresh Hope churches are finding creative new ways to reach their communities with the Gospel this Christmas.

Asquith Church of Christ, together with two other local churches, is running its annual community carols event online this Sunday (13 December) for the first time in its 11-year history. Last year the carols attracted about 5000 people.

“I hope that whoever is tuning in gets to experience something of the kingdom in a way that they haven’t before,” said Asquith Church of Christ Youth and Young Adults Pastor Gil Corr. “For them to have that life-giving good news of Jesus in their living room, or on their laptops – in places it probably would never have been before – is so great.”

Senior Minister Andrew Maxwell commented, “COVID has been a necessary thrusting into new areas and I think that has opened up people’s thinking considerably to the possibility of doing some new things in new ways. We’ve been encouraging our people to line up some family, friends or neighbours and invite them around on Sunday night – maybe have a barbeque or snacks and drinks and watch the carols online together.”

In the Blue Mountains, Katoomba Lighthouse Church is hosting ‘A Night of Lights’ on Sunday 20 December, a fun night that will feature Christmas lights, hot popcorn, ice cream, hot or cold tea and coffee, casual busking music and a photo booth. 

“A Night of Lights is not so much an opportunity to outreach or evangelise but more a gift to our community – just have them come and have a good time,” said Katoomba Lighthouse Church Pastor Kristin Dalbrun. “We hope that it might heal a gap between the church and the community by forming relationships.

“The invitation I’ve had from God in this last [COVID] season is to think smaller. It’s different from a traditional Christmas carols event – we want to very subtly explore different ways to love on people and give them a quality experience where they walk away and go, ‘Wow, it’s like they knew me and loved me and really spent time to consider me.’”

Danielle RG, an artist and leader of Common Groundz Studio, the community arm of Common Groundz Café in Lalor Park, is involved with coordinating their 12th annual Christmas Day lunch for those in their local community who are lonely, in need, or have nowhere else to go.

“There are a lot of lonely people directly in our neighbourhood and the Christmas lunch is about creating a nice few hours for them so that no one’s hungry and they get to talk to somebody for a small part of the day,” she said. 

“There is a walkway between our café and the next shop, which we’ll set up with tables and chairs – although this year will be a bit different as we have to book people in and have a COVID marshal. We receive donations from local shops for chickens and hams, and Blacktown City Council and Blacktown Workers Club support the initiative.”

Read more stories of Fresh Hope here.