Saints and Angels links church and community
2003. Don’t dress up like a ghoul. Come along as Saint John or the angel Gabriel, or Moses. The Saints and Angels party encourages children to come dressed up as an angel, saint, or character from the Bible, rather than Halloween costumes.
Saints and Angels party was hosted by four Lower Hutt churches this year, and other congregations supported the event. Due to the unavailability of the Town and Horticultural halls where it was hosted last year the event multiplied to four smaller venues – Walter Nash Stadium, Epuni Baptist church, Lower Hutt Baptist church and Knox Presbyterian Church.
The idea for Saints and Angels began as a small seed five years ago from a group of people at Knox. “We really began this idea in obedience to what we believe was a leading from God,” says Sue Fenton, Knox Presbyterian Church’s Director of Children and Families Ministries.
Sue thinks that many people find children knocking on their doors on Halloween annoying and sometimes intimidating.
“At a basic level Saints and Angels gives families a reason not to be home on Oct 31st, but also to introduce to their children an understanding of the other side of the spiritual world than what Halloween represents.
I am sure God is doing all sorts of things through this event that we never planned or could dream of. Our mission at our church is ‘to help people know Jesus and follow Him’.”
In practical terms, she says Knox hopes to make healthy alternative for Christian kids to going tricking and treating. We didn’t want our kids roaming the streets, dressed as witches, collecting lollies, but also didn’t see why they should sit at home on Oct 31st feeling as if they were missing out.
“There was also an awareness of the bigger spiritual picture here – really an overt good vs. evil night! It has now developed into a community outreach,” she says.
Approximately 1500 people attended the party at the Town and Horticultural Halls last year. This year Sue estimates that over two thousand people attended the four events. The annual party has been going since 1999.
Saints and Angels is described as a party with a carnival, fun-fair type atmosphere. It is only limited by the number of resources available. Knox hired bouncy castles, bucking broncos, held a sausage sizzle, provided plenty of food including candy floss and bags of lollies, children could do face painting, nail polish painting, and craft activities, with entertainment on stage hosted by an MC, including dance and music. A gold coin donation per person is asked for at the door, but after that everything is free.
“We heard one story after last year’s party of a lady being so moved by seeing different churches working together on this event that she went home, knelt by her bed, and gave her life to Jesus. When we lift Jesus high, He will draw men to Himself.”
By Peter Veugelaers
Published 2003, Challenge Weekly