Horizons of Faith United Methodist Church partnered with local congregations Bethel United Methodist Church and Engage Church to host a day of fun, community building, and exploring “The True Meaning of Christmas.”
The True Meaning of Christmas Tour, launched in 2017 by United Methodist Communications (UMCom), is an opportunity to help spread Christmas cheer in communities across the nation and reinforce our practice of being a Connectional Church.
Each year, Horizons of Faith UMC hosts “A Day with Santa.” One of their revered community outreach opportunities, kids from around the Pike Township area gather to learn about the Christmas story, sing songs, create ornaments, share one-on-one time with Santa Claus, and receive gifts. This year, children designed Christmas cards with messages of encouragement for those who often go unseen in the margins of our society, the incarcerated.
United Methodist Jail Ministries is a coalition of nearly 30 Methodist churches in the Metropolitan area working to ensure that prisoners are seen and heard—and are provided opportunities to start and strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ. As part of their ministry, members plan to distribute the Christmas cards to prisoners at the Marion County jail during their monthly chapel visit.
Jane Ann, a former chaplain and longtime member at Horizons of Faith, has been a member of the coalition for nearly 30 years and supervised the production of Christmas cards on Saturday by children who took part in the Christmas event. When asked if the children understood the significance of their work, Jane claimed that the children were thrilled to be a part of this mission to make an impact in the lives of people who may not get to spend time with their loved ones this holiday season.
Events like the one hosted on Saturday provide opportunities for a continued relationship between the community and the local church. For some, this was the first time they were stepping inside a church in a long time.
Dee Cazares, who helped organize Saturday’s event, shared her encounter with a family—a mother and six children, seeking a helping hand during the holidays. “We wrote down all of the kids’ names, and we’re going to help them at Christmas. The mom came back and said, ’I think I’ve found a church home.’” She said members of Bethel and Horizons of Faith will collaborate and consider ways they can lend support to the family.
Dee continued, “It makes me feel great. If that was the only thing that happened today, it would have been more than enough.”
Dee gives credit to the outreach resources they received from United Methodist Communications for helping spread the word about the event — banners, a pop-up tent, postcards, and branded bright green hoodies marked with “The True Meaning of Christmas” logo. “We appreciate all the resources that we received.”
Last year, neighbors from throughout downtown Indianapolis were served hot chocolate from a gift-wrapped tour truck in the parking lot at Roberts Park United Methodist Church, located in the heart of the city. The touring team from UMCom sang Christmas carols, shared hugs, and prayed with passerbys, from young toddlers from the church daycare to young professionals on a brisk walk to work, to those experiencing homelessness and braving the harsh winter temperatures.
This year, the truck will traverse 11 cities throughout the United States, from Baltimore, Maryland, to Los Angeles, California, and stopping in the southern region of the country, in cities like Atlanta, Georgia. But local churches are being equipped to launch outreach opportunities in their own cities, with pop-up events like that hosted by Horizons of Faith, Bethel United Methodist Church, and Engage Church.