Family-friendly Light Parties offer Hallowe’en alternative

ACROSS Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire churches are gathering pumpkins, glowsticks and hotdogs as they prepare to celebrate Jesus as the Light of the World.

They are getting ready for annual Light Parties which often aim to offer a seasonal and safe alternative to Hallowe’en trick or treating. Using a variety of resources, they are planning activities including dancing, crafts, games, apple bobbing and other fun. Below is a round-up of just some of the events that are set to take place.

Oxfordshire:

 Christ Church, Abingdon
A Light Party takes place on Wednesday, October 31, from 5.30-7.30pm.

Heather Hughes, children’s minister, said: “For us, it’s really important that it happens on the actual day and that the whole family are invited.  Sometimes older people want to be out of the house on Hallowe’en, so this offers them somewhere to go and celebrate instead.  We usually focus on either Jesus being the Light of the World or us shining as lights in the world.  For the first half an hour everyone brings a picnic tea.  Then the next 1.5 hours is worship, story, talk, lots of crafts, games and a celebration in the dark with glow sticks.”

Thame
St Mary’s Church, Cornerstone Baptist Church and Barley Hill Church are putting on a joint Light themed disco for families from 7.30-8.30pm on October 31st.

Sian Stratton said: “I think there is a lot of pressure on families to do something to celebrate Hallowe’en in some way. I think we have a lot of families who are wondering if it’s the right thing to do. Our stance is to say it’s not the best thing for our children and we wanted to make a space that’s accessible to anyone. If someone is feeling the pressure to go trick or treating they can come into this free space and they can bring a friend. It’s important to give people the choice.”

 St Mary’s Cogges, Witney
Kirsty Morgan, the youth, children’s and families worker from Cogges, Witney, is arranging a Light Party at tea time, with games, crafts, pumpkin carvings, doughnuts on strings and apple bobbing. Children will be encouraged so carve smiley faces into the pumpkins during the tea-time party.

“We are offering an alternative to trick or treating. It’s something they can bring their children to if they don’t like trick or treating. There are sweets and refreshments for the adults and we chat to them to make them feel welcome. We have hot dogs for the kids as it’s happening over tea time.

“It’s providing an alternative that isn’t celebrating evil, but that is celebrating what’s light and good. Last year the vicar did a talk about why we were doing it, talking about Jesus as the light of the world.”

 Berkshire:

 Sandhurst
At St Michael and All Angels’ in Sandhurst, a Light Party is set to be held for the second year running. Angela Harper, the family worker, said: “There is a lot of pressure to join in with trick or treating and I think it’s important to have an alternative to shine God’s love over the community.”

Angela said she believed Light Parties were an important way of helping people think differently, challenge the norms and help them do what is right for them in the run-up to Hallowe’en. She said last year’s Light Party was a joyful event that involved the whole community.

St Michael’s uses resources from World Vision, including Pumpkin Heroes, songs and stories. “That’s made it far easier for us than if we’d had to start from scratch,” says Angela. “It was really successful last year. There was a real feeling of love and light with a treasure hunt in the graveyard and a prayer pumpkin crafted out of paper that everyone could write a prayer on.”

The 2018 Light Party takes place from 10am-1pm on Thursday, October 25.

Caversham
Amersham Road Cooking Club (ARCC), an ecumenical group in Caversham, are running a Light Party on Sunday 28th October from 4-6pm at The Weller Centre. It’s aimed at 0-11-year-olds and their families. There’ll be games, light-themed crafts, singing, food and a chance to think and reflect on how each one of us can be lights in this world.

Anna Clark, children and families outreach worker at St John’s, Caversham, said: “For me, light parties are a fantastic way of getting to know children and families in the local community. We have a lot of fun together whilst at the same time, sharing important Christian truths and challenging children (and adults) to think about how these are relevant to them in their everyday life.”

St Mary’s, Wargrave
On Wednesday 31st October, from 4-6pm there will be the annual Light Party for three to 11-year-olds. There will be doughnuts on a string, pumpkin carving, decorating lanterns, apple bobbing and sardines in the dark (with glowsticks. There’ll also be hotdogs and cake.

Newbury and Thatcham

Churches in Newbury and Thatcham have joined forces to publicise their Light Parties. Mark Landreth-Smith, a pastor from the Bridge Church, said: “This is in response to parents expressing concern about some of the things that can happen on the streets at night during Hallowe’en. These Light Parties offer a safe place for children to enjoy the evening without getting scared or being put at risk. All are free and include fun, games, craft, music and food.”

Thatcham Baptist Church Light Party 31st October 5.30-6.30pm

Newbury Baptist Church Light Party 31st October 5pm-7pm.

St Nic’s, Newbury Light Night 31st October 5pm-7pm. stnicskids_lightnight.eventbrite.co.uk?s=88767442

Bridge Church Newbury Light Party, Sunday 28th October Trinity School, Love Lane, Newbury 11am-noon

Glendale Church Light Party Wed 31st October 5pm-7.00pm The Well, Thatcham RG19 3RG

 

Buckinghamshire

Holy Trinity Church, Benefice of Chalfont St. Giles, Seer Green and Jordans.
A Moveable Feast for nine to 14-year-olds starts at the vicarage with games and sweets, before a treasure hunt in the churchyard and a little talk about All Hallow’s Eve, Jesus as the light of the world and a little on the dark side of trick or treating.

The Revd Cassa Messervy, the vicar, said: “We aim to equip them with the knowledge to make good choices. We then go to a couple of other houses to get sweets then we end at Seer Green Baptist Church (we do most of our children’s outreach together) to toast marshmallows.

“For the first time last year, we did this before Hallowe’en, mainly for practical reasons but we quadrupled the number of children who came, and we realized that rather than competing with trick or treating (a very safe and fun experience in our small friendly village) we were equipping them to go into it with eyes open.”