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More churches saying ‘boo’ to Halloween

Pumpkin patches and craft fairs replacing costumes in some communities, adding outreach in others
Most people see orange this time of year. Members of the Park Plaza church in Tulsa, Okla., see green.

The church’s pumpkin patch last year raised more than $2,100 for the Education Foundation at Key Elementary School, the church’s contact through Tulsa’s Partners in Education program.
This year, pulpit minister Mitch Wilburn says the expectations are higher in every way.
“We want to be a good neighbor, and the community now sees us in this positive light because of our work,” Wilburn said. “But more than that, there is a deeper meaning to this. We can’t be satisfied with just being a good neighbor. We have to take the next step and turn these efforts into conversations and studies about Jesus.”
The fun begins again this year on Oct. 16, with the opening of the Park Plaza Pumpkin Patch. Also planned is a craft fair, hay maze, petting zoo, face painting and games. The attractions are free and open to the public.
Sale items will include baked goods, arts, crafts, jewelry and more. The craft fair runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 22.
The Vancouver, Wash. church also will be a sea of orange as that congregation prepares its Pumpkin Patch. Delivery of thousands of pumpkins is expected on Sunday afternoon, and volunteers will help customers pick out pumpkins each day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 30.
The proceeds from the Vancouver church event will benefit its Mexico Mission team. But more importantly, church leaders say, it gives the community an opportunity to see members in a different setting.
“We will have a chance to meet people from all over Clark County and let them know who we are and what we’re about,” minister Craig Brown said. Those who purchase pumpkins are given an invitation to the church’s Harvest Festival, which it calls a Christian alternative to Halloween, as well as its building dedication on Nov. 6.
“We will begin building relationships with people looking for a church home,” Brown swaid.
Wilburn said fall activities are an example of how church leaders are becoming more creative with evangelism. Giving away candy or cups of hot cocoa is just part of the plan, though.
“It’s important that we don’t let ourselves slip into the realm of social interaction,” Wilburn said. “We’ve always got to keep before us that these are efforts to reach souls.”
Other churches offering similar events include the Providence Rd Church of Christ in Charlotte, NC, which will host its 4th annual Fall Fun Fest on Oct. 31. Activities will include a petting zoo, dunking booth, bounce houses, the amazing maze, carnival games, cake walk, police & fire officers/vehicles, face painting, Christian magician, pumpkin decorating, and more. Candy and prizes will be distributed, as well.
Jim Bales said the congregation calls the event its “fun, safe alternative to Halloween” and expect more than 700 children this year.
“We always have it on the night of the 31st, and we have lots of bright lights on the front lawn to attract attention,” Bales said. “Today’s streets are not the same as they were 30-40 years ago. Lots of folks don’t know their next door neighbors – not to mention the people down the block. Parents need a place to take their kids where they are safe.”
“Then maybe they will remember us as a comfortable, friendly, Christ-like congregation worth a second look,” he said, adding that parents register their children for door prizes, then church members follow up with contacts.

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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