Two Christian Reformed Church congregations in the Niagara, Ont., region walked or rolled along their cities’ Santa Claus parade routes this season, inviting parade-goers to their community-centred Christmas events and living into a “Go and Tell It” mission.
The Village Church in Thorold, Ont., and Mountainview CRC in Grimsby, Ont., each took a different approach, but with the same goals in mind.
“We are walking among the crowd this year and not in the parade, so it is really different for us,” said Village Church communications coordinator Erin Knight. “Our R.A.K.E. [Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere] team has coordinated handing out hot chocolate packs with an invite to our outdoor Christmas carol service. We also give out candy to the kids.”
“This way we had more time to chat and connect with people we might know along the parade since we didn’t have to keep up with [a] float,” said R.A.K.E. team coordinator Hilda Vanderklippe. “Personally I connected with several neighbours and with folks who I’ve gotten to know through programs we are involved with here in the city.”
Mountainview CRC was inspired by its city’s parade theme of Christmas songs and participated with a float for the first time.
“For our float we chose the song ‘Go and Tell It,’ which is a modern take on ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain.’ We chose this song because we are [a] church, but also because [it] is one of the songs in an event [being held] the week after, called “Jingle Jam: Put a Bow On It!”—a Christmas party for the whole family,” said Christine Winter, the church’s children’s ministry director.
Winter said the free event, which is also a first for the congregation, consists of songs, skits, videos, and games and is “similar in form and excitement to a VBS closing program.” A Jingle Jam children’s crew, including community kids and the church’s praise team, has been rehearsing the program since September.
“These events provide us an opportunity to go into our little corner of creation, into our local community, and build relationships, meeting people where they are,” Winter said. “Serving and loving them, showing them we care, and perhaps through our words and deeds share the good news.”