Ontario Church Celebrates Advent Traditions Around the World

Naomi, 3, with the Charamico tree, a craft for the Dominican Republic Advent celebration week.
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Crosstowne Church, an emerging Christian Reformed congregation in Milton, Ont., took a global focus for the season of Advent, welcoming children to experience a different international tradition each Sunday between Nov. 28 and Christmas. Families explored festivities from the Dominican Republic, Uganda, the Netherlands, and the Coptic Orthodox tradition. Using Facebook, they targeted posts to the communities that directly surround the church, inviting their neighbors to join them for the season of hope.

Crosstowne recently began renting space in an old Presbyterian church, near growing neighborhoods where thousands of new homes were recently built. The congregation had previously been meeting in a building in a more commercial part of the city.

“Pastor John Bouwers suggested this to the leadership team, and we all thought this was such a great idea, because maybe they would resonate with some of the traditions, see themselves around the table too,” explained pastor Courtney Saldivar.

The invitation did not result in any additional attendees from the community, but Saldivar said posts she made online received a lot of engagement and were a way to begin interacting in the neighborhood.

“Every time I made a post on Facebook, I really put that offer out there, to seek hope, to explore it, and to celebrate with us,” Saldivar said. “There was space for them to journey through this season of hope alongside us.”

Connecting the celebration globally was a blessing to the congregation, she said. 

In the week that they learned about Uganda, the church connected with a pastor and children from an orphanage in Uganda. The orphanage staff wanted to throw a big party with a bouncy castle and gifts for the children this year, and Crosstowne members raised the funds needed to support this Christmas celebration.

Each national exploration was another way to connect with Christians around the world.

“It was a great way to lean into this global hope, especially as things like these new (pandemic) restrictions happen and the voice of fear and anxiety becomes so loud. There’s lots of hoping and waiting happening across the whole earth,” Saldivar said. “This was a great reminder that it's a louder voice than all the other competing voices.”

About the Author

Krista Dam-VandeKuyt is a member of Kemptville CRC and lives with her family in Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario.