Whilst celebrating Halloween is gaining in popularity with Australian young people every year, it is a cultural phenomenon that is not so simple for Christians to know how to engage with. Tackling Halloween and taking advantage of this unique mission opportunity, All Saints Belmont decided to hold a Halloween Party and invite children and their parents from around the parish to attend. All Saints took the view that it wasn’t promoting Halloween, but doing what Paul did on Mars Hill – telling people about the God who loves them who is behind what they celebrate in Halloween. The message of the mission was “In Jesus we encounter perfect love, and perfect loves casts out all fear”. Deacon Greg Colby rallied the parish volunteers to ensure that the 5 creepy craft tables and ghoulish food to feed the ravenous hordes all came together for what one young participant, Raya, called “the best time ever”.
The craft included pumpkin carving which the kids absolutely loved – especially as it meant getting their hands deep inside the pumpkin and digging it’s guts out. Another really popular table was the slime table which got so slimy that the tables needed to be taken out and gurnied following the event to get them clean! Included in the party was a “Chatty Death’s” segment where Death (or someone cleverly disguised as a mad doctor cowboy) interviewed Ghastly Saints such as Saint Lucy whose eyes were poked out to satisfy a jilted suitor, St Valentine who lost his head over marriage, and Jesus, who declined to enter into the “here-after’ as he was just down for a visit and would be returning to life in 3 days to be resurrected!
The children, parents and parish volunteers all took the opportunity to dress up for there party. 80 people including 30 children, around half of whom had had no previous contact with the parish, came along and had a great time and also heard about the gospel of love which casts out all fear. Reverend Greg Colby said “It took a tremendous amount of pre-planning and parish volunteers being involved to make this happen, but it was worth all the work to see the smiles, hear the laughter and to have so many people engage with our parish”. Many of the kids and parents went out of their way to thank the close to 20 parish volunteers for putting on the event. One mother even texted afterwards to say “thanks again for such a lovely evening”. This same mother brought along a friend and her children who all now want to come along to church and Messy Saints.
Parish priest, Reverend Janet Killen remarked that “whilst at first some in the parish were hesitant and needed encouragement to do anything involving Halloween, in the end everyone could see the power of taking a secular celebration and using that to present the gospel”. Will All Saints be doing it again next year? You can count on it.