During these difficult times more than 1000 ‘Comfort and Joy’ packages have been delivered to people in a Lancashire town this Christmas, along with 1500 DIY Christingles; one for every primary school child.
The ‘Comfort and Joy' packages were inspired by ideas that staff and clergy at St James’ Church in Clitheroe got from other Dioceses and combining them.
Church Operations Manager, Naomi Lynas, said: “We sourced almost all the materials online, looking for ethical and sustainable materials where possible.
“Each box contained a 'Comfort and Joy leaflet', with all the details of our Christmas services and a couple of paragraphs with an outreach message in them which Rev Mark Pickett, our Rector, wrote. We actually chose the theme of 'Comfort and Joy' before the CofE nationally announced the same theme for their Christmas 2020 campaign!
“Our Children's Minister looked after the 'How to make a Christingle' postcard and the elements of the Christingle Kits. The boxes also contained fairtrade tea bags, chocolate, sweets and a laser-cut wooden bauble etched with the words 'Comfort and Joy'.”
The church put together a team of 14 packers who assembled each box from start to finish. The boxes were then quarantined before being circulated.
Naomi continued: “We also added a sticker to the back of each box with details of the church and a space where church members could put their details - it's much more personal to receive a box from 'Tim at Number 24' with a phone number, as well as the church details.
“A big part of the initiative was also about equipping our congregation to reach out to their communities - their streets, estates and neighbours.”
“We've all felt closer to our neighbours this year, perhaps through the Clap for the NHS but also through WhatsApp groups and just being at home more. So, we felt God was calling us to build on these relationships. The congregation was invited to reserve boxes for their street and we didn't limit this to our parish - it was simply a way of blessing people.”
The congregation really responded to the challenge and 1000 boxes were snapped up in just over a week.
The Christingle Kits were designed for the church primary school, St James’, but following a conversation with the Rev Andy Froud, Vicar of St Mary's in Clitheroe and the Rev Catherine Hale-Heighway, Vicar of St Pauls, the team managed to coordinate getting a Christingle Pack to every single primary school age child in Clitheroe.
“The response of the community has been really encouraging,” said Naomi. “Whole streets taking part in the doorstep Christingle and watching our Carol Service. We've had messages on Instagram, on Facebook and our website. One family took 50 boxes around some sheltered housing for elderly people and we've received many thank you cards and messages.
“With a huge amount of help from volunteers, commitment from our congregation and serious coordination between churches and local schools, we've got the message of Comfort and Joy into our Clitheroe community this year.”