St. Nicholas

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St. Nicholas Feast: A Neighborhood Party
Community Outreach—Worship and Service Together

St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio

The second year St. James celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas, they opened the festival of worship, fellowship and service up to the whole community. Careful planning and good publicity more than doubled attendance, attracting people from the community and other churches, including around thirty children. The event raised the church's profile in the community and significantly benefited a local food pantry.

Shoes with carrots
Shoes left on arrival
Bags of donated gifts
Gifts brought to the altar
Gathered with children
Telling Saint Nicholas' story
Reclaiming filled shoes
Finding treats!
Saint Nicholas with children
Pictures with Saint Nicholas
Publicity Poster

Photos:St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio
Used by permission

St. Nicholas provides a perfect way to reach beyond the congregation into the community. Everyone recognizes St. Nicholas and he offers a natural way to have fun and do good at the same time. This festival encourages giving rather than receiving and models compassion and caring for those in need, just like St. Nicholas.

Keys to Success
• Conceive event as a gift to the neighborhood
  it will be great fun for you as well
• Plan carefully
  only a great program makes a great impression
• Make worship part of event (it is celebrating a feast day)
  invite other parishes, too
• Wrap service into the fun
  then it is outreach, as well as worship and fun
• Involve the whole parish in planning
  everyone is invested in its success

On arrival, children bring carrots and a shoe or boot to leave by the fireplace. After the liturgy, they find small gifts from Saint Nicholas.

Order of Service
Special emphasis on St. Nicholas as patron saint of sailors and children
Hymns, prayers selected to complement outreach project emphasis, i.e., naval hymns,
prayer for men and women of armed forces, especially navy and coast guard, or children, those in need, etc.
Blessing outreach gifts (hats, scarves, food, knitting, etc)

Outreach Project
Collect hats, scarves, gloves, mittens for children who visit local food pantry
Collect candy and fruit for food pantry
Children help package candy with the gloves and hats so the receiving children share in celebration
Include a card telling who you are
Turkeys donated by business and parishioners for food pantry
(Parishioners asked to buy an extra at Thanksgiving
Refrigerated truck donated, so turkeys could be dropped off Friday night for Saturday delivery)
Assisted with distribution at food pantry

Pizza (donated)
Snacks, finger foods from parishioners
Speculaas (Dutch cookies)
Hot chocolate and punch
Dutch Sinterklaas music
Display of Dutch Sinterklaas tradition (wooden shoes, photos, clothing)
Photos with St. Nicholas
Activity packets for children
      Story of Real St. Nicholas
      Coloring pages
      Word searches

Begin in October, example from church dinner:
      Full page "ad" in program
      Candy in center of each table
      Announcement during dinner
Bulletin insert for three weeks
Color poster, using images from previous year, put in grocery stores, schools, libraries
Letter (with poster and bulletin insert) inviting other churches in deanery
Press releases
Large sign on church lawn

Include newer members

Sample poster (11x17-inches)
Sample bulletin/program insert
Sample press release

More photos

Adapted from:
"Second Annual St. Nick Feast Brings Worship and Service Together" by Sharyn Fees and "Raising your parish's profile: Visibility and Reputation" by R. Stephen Gracey, ChurchLife!, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio,Winter 2005. Used by permission.n Photos and other information from St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio.

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