Imagination is never locked down!

cupcakes in a box with click and collect button
All Saints Woodford Wells made their traditional Christmas fair a click-and-collect affair (cupcakes Photo by Daniel Klein on Unsplash)

During the last year, we have all had to learn new and imaginative ways of doing things. We’d like to share some stories we have been hearing about how churches and advocates have imagined new ways to raise money for CMS, adapting to the challenges that different tiers of lockdown presented.

Ken MacGregor from All Saints Woodford Wells tells the story of how they adapted their annual autumn sale to meet the Tier requirements.

All Saints has held an annual sale pre-Christmas for many years, bringing together their church family to contribute funds for their mission partners. Usually, this sale is held in the church, run by volunteers and staff, and is known for good quality goods: jams, plants, cakes, books, crafts, Christmas gifts and decorations etc.

The team at All Saints began their planning when their region was in Tier 2 and then Tier 3. They planned a Sale Trail, enabling people to run stalls from their own driveways/garages, while visitors to the stalls would walk a certain route, able to maintain social distancing as they went around. However, as the Tier levels increased, the All Saints team realised they would need to move the sale online.

“We decided to give people the opportunity to click and collect,” recalls Ken, “our usual stallholders were now offering their goods online via our website. We promoted the sale to our church family, via our newsletter, and our prayer network. And we had real success – cakes, jams and pickles were a sell-out! Plants and crafts were on offer too. Our card sales had their best year ever!”

Ahead of Christmas, the church also created a Christmas walkthrough called Journey into Hope. The journey involved 4 stations around the site, including live farm animals, showing different aspects of the Christmas story. Numbers were carefully managed in small groups throughout the day, and more than 200 adults and children went on the journey and received gifts including online service and Hardship fund information.

“In a difficult year, using our imagination to focus on what we can do, has made all the difference,” says Ken. “As a larger church, we have been offering technical and other kinds of support to some of our smaller sister churches in the area. We’ve also started running the Alpha course online – and the turnout is bigger than ever before, with new people more willing to attend. We aim to work within the boundaries of what is currently allowed, keeping people safe and demonstrating the love of God to all.”

CMS church advocate Jane Carey, from Eaton benefice, recalls how in early December, with their region in Tier 3, they planned a socially distanced Christmas Fair in aid of CMS.

“We usually have an Autumn Fair, but this year an inspirational woman from Christ Church Eaton suggested we have a Christmas Fair instead. She and some friends had already made Christmas masks, decorations and gifts for the sale.”

The churches were careful to follow all the rules related to being in Tier 3 for the fair, including wearing face masks and signing in for track and trace. The sale was promoted using posters in the churches, church halls and local shops as well as on the churches’ websites and notice-sheets. People were glad to supply Christmas homemade crafts, cakes, savouries and preserves for the stalls.

“We even found a way to run the raffle,” remembers Jane, “there was no-one at the table, and we had a large white card showing the numbers one to one hundred. Those wishing to participate chose their squares and wrote their name and phone number.

“Overall we made the wonderful sum of £1,200, almost as much as our annual Autumn Fair. Right now, in full lockdown, we know we can’t do anything similar, but the sale really was worthwhile. The restrictions were challenging, but by using our imaginations, we adapted and it really made a difference”.

Anna and Chris Hembury
Grateful for sacrificial giving: Anna and Chris Hembury

Meanwhile, earlier in the year, Haxby and Wigginton churches responded amazingly to an appeal from CMS for support for their mission partners, Anna and Chris Hembury. CMS advocate, Betty Pearson takes up the story:

“Anna and Chris Hembury visit both churches at Harvest time each year to keep us informed of the mission work in their community in Hull. 2020 was a very difficult year for all our churches, but here in Haxby & Wigginton we are well blessed with our clergy and lay people. When the request for help from CMS came, our minister the Rev Kathryn and the PCC encouraged giving via online links, churches and voluntary giving, and people were incredibly generous, sometimes even putting money through the treasurer’s front door!”

As a result of this appeal, these generous churches covered the shortfall in money raised to support the Hemburys in 2020.

We at CMS are so grateful for all that our advocates and supporting churches have done and given over the past difficult year. Whether through special fundraising in new ways, or through the heartfelt concern of people responding to a need, we are truly humbled at the sacrificial way our churches have given. We hope these stories will encourage you as we face the challenges of 2021 – to learn from each other, use our imaginations, and to seek and find what we can do.

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