Rainford Parish Church held an Advent Windows display over Advent as part of their missional outreach. The Advent Windows were created by multiple church organisations and local schools really inviting the community into the building.
The event was opened with a concert by St Helens Singers, attended by over 200 people followed by the opening of the church throughout the day where people could come and see the Windows, journeying through an Advent storybook from Creation through to Christ's birth. This was rounded off in the evening with a 'Follow the Light' lantern procession along a section of the village involving a blend of young and old, church and non-church folk from the parish and beyond, a gathering around the Christmas tree and a family movie evening.
Rev’d Noel McGarrigle spoke to us about the event's success in trying to capitalise on the opportunity of the annual Rainford Christmas Fayre that attracts hundreds of people to the village over the first weekend in December :
“Through collaboration between clergy and laity, the Advent Windows coupled with the Follow the Light lantern procession was seen as a real tool for both mission and evangelism that could reach everyone in the parish: The church would be used to display the Advent Windows to tell the story of Coming of Christ (evangelism); the lantern procession used to bear witness to the Light of the World calling on all to Follow the Light (mission).
“Our hope is simply more people knowing Jesus, more justice in the world. I wanted people to better understand the reason why God came to be with us in the person of Jesus Christ so that God is not some idea or an unknown being, but is totally relational and with us. In other words, Jesus isn't just for Christmas but with us yesterday, today and forever. And I think we are bearing the fruits of our event through our monthly Messy Church which we started just four months ago, seeing 29 adults and children attending in our first service back in October; our January service of last week, saw 70 adults and children attend. News of the event was greatly received and commended via our Facebook page, therefore, publicising the church to an audience hitherto unreached. We'll run the event bi-annually so the next one will be in 2024.
“This event involved a large number of people, both lay and clergy, working together and took much effort to make happen. Since the start of the year, our church is open during the week so as to allow people to visit the display and this is drawing people into the church, especially people who do not attend.”
There will be an Open Day on Tuesday 31 January between 10 am - 3 pm and 6 pm - 9 pm, all are welcome to attend to view and members of the church will be on hand to answer any questions about the event and its impact upon the parish.
Check out some videos of the events here: