A fantastic celebration of God’s light in the community was celebrated in Bury St Edmunds on Halloween night. Network Suffolk went along to see how Churches in the town were taking a different approach to this annual tradition.
West Road Church started their ‘Light Station’ 4 years ago as an alternative to the ‘Light Party’ they had previously run. Emma Malcolm, Children and Family Worker said, “We realised that this was one evening where many of the people living around the Church were out in the street. Our light parties looked to bring people in to the church, but we realised that it was actually a great opportunity for us to be out meeting people where they are. Rather than be intimidated by Halloween, we saw to take advantage of the evening, presenting an alternative to that which can be the focus.”
This year there were 6 Churches running similar events across the town – running ‘Light Stations’ outside their church buildings in the street. Offering marshmallows, hot chocolate and goody bags to ‘trick and treaters’,many parents describe the stations as safe places for their children to go. Emma continues, “We want to meet with our local communities and share with them the love and light of Jesus, as an alternative to Halloween.”
Alongside the refreshments, children were given ‘goodie bags’ containing a message about Jesus, invitation to the Church, details of their Youth Group, as well as sweets.
Over the course of the evening over 250 children visited the ‘light station, enjoying the free food and drink, and often with their parents, chatting with members of the Church who mingled amongst them on the street. From the start there was a sense of ‘event’ and expectation, where Church really met with community in a very natural way. Key to the evening being a success was the preparation and organisation that had obviously gone in to this. Many of the Church – especially the younger people – were involved in a variety of roles, where even the time spent on getting the lighting right, made for a well presented evening that encouraged the local community to engage with their local Church.