By Lorie Lewis Ham
The Halloween season is upon us once again. Many people love the scary side of the holiday, but some prefer a gentler, happier version. A lot of churches provide an alternative for kids with some sort of festival where they still get to dress up, but with no scary costumes or events allowed. Instead of vampires and werewolves, you have princesses and bunnies. More pretty lights, instead of dark and scary decorations.
Many Mennonite Brethren Churches have gone all out with these lighter events, seeing it also as an opportunity to reach out to the community. The Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church has been a part of a large event since 1998. Not only are these events a lighter more carnival type atmosphere, but they also provide a safer alternative to families than going house to house trick or treating.
The Reedley MB carnival started out as a joint venture with the First Baptist Church in town. They call their event the Fall Family Fun Night. “Initially it was intended to be an event teaming up with other Reedley churches,” states Mike Schellenberg, Pastor of Discipleship & Outreach at the Reedley MB. “Over the years it has become more of an RMBC event as other churches have started up their own church events.”
Mike says that they realized Halloween could be a very dark, scary, and unsafe evening for the community and they wanted to bring the Light of Jesus to a very dark day for their city, especially the neighbors right around the church. “We have hundreds attend from the community and RMBC. We try really hard to keep it affordable and fun. All the games and inflatables are free! The only items that cost are food.”
The church members volunteer to serve in the booths, make food, etc. and they collect candy from the church members during the month of October. Everyone who participates in the games gets free candy, win or lose. Through the years, the food available has included pizza, tri tip sandwiches, fajita burrito, Frito boats, nachos, cotton candy, kettle corn, and pumpkin pie.
Each year they also have a live band that plays all styles of Christian music. “Last year we were blessed to have the Cruising for Jesus band and many of their beautiful cars,” continued Mike.
“We also want to be intentional about sharing the love of Jesus. We have a designated group from RMBC that walks around handing out Bibles and offering to pray for anyone that would like it. We have a prayer booth and a special kids booth with a children’s interactive kids story that leads to the plan of salvation. We have kids every year pray to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Over the years, God has used the event to build relationships with individuals from the community and break down walls.”
As for what they may be doing this year, Mike says they have been talking to the city and other churches trying to sort that out. “Whatever we do it will definitely look different this year. Some of the ideas we are discussing are taking the FFFN downtown to the park, or merchants on G Street, or partnering up with Cruising for Jesus at their outdoor location on Dinuba Ave. But nothing has been decided yet.”
If you are among those who prefer your Halloween to be something gentler and lighter, most towns do have other options available. To learn what might be going on in your town this year, be sure to check in with your city and local churches. Even if your Halloween means dressing up and staying home this year, hopefully, next year things will be back to normal.
We would love to see your photos of what churches in your area do for Halloween. Be sure to share with us on our Facebook Page.