By Gail Gravelines
How can we reach out and engage people in our Greater Hardisty communities?
That question, pondered by leaders of three Hardisty area churches, resulted in the first annual free community Christmas dinner enjoyed by about 280 people of all ages on December 13, 2014.
“We talked about how to engage people in our community. How to reach out and help people connect with each other across all ages, faiths and backgrounds,” says Rev. Jonathan Crane of St. Augustine Anglican Church, “The City of Edmonton had neighbourhood engagement funds to help communities create opportunities for people to get to know each other and connect.”
And how best to connect people than over dinner and dessert!
“We started with three churches and by the time we held the dinner, nine different faith organizations came together to put this on,” says Jenny Samm of Hope Lutheran Church, lead organizer. “We specifically chose a community location – Hardisty School gym – so that people knew the dinner was open to all.”
From grace, to turkey and cranberries, to Christmas carols, children’s games and a visit from Santa the 90-minute celebration was enjoyed by many. Here’s what some said:
“This is the only turkey dinner I’ll have this Christmas. I live alone, so I don’t cook turkeys.”
“I invited my neighbours to come, so we’re all here!” “No dishes to wash. Great to see the kids having fun too!” “This is the face of God in action!” “Let’s do this again next year!”
Thanks to the congregations who came together to create this community event:
Braemar Baptist—Capilano Christian Assembly—Grace United Church—Hope Lutheran Church
Mount Carmel Bible College—Ottewell Christian Reform Church—St. Augustine Anglican Church