By Fred Koenig
Some churches already had plans other than Imagine No Malaria for Christmas, and did some radical giving in a different direction.
Living Word Church in Wildwood collected $253,893.19 in December for The Ghana Project. The Rev. Michael McIntyre, lead pastor, challenged church members and friends to spend half of what they would have spent on gifts for family and friends at Christmas this year and give the other half to children in Ghana who are dying because they lack basic necessities – clean water, food and medicine.
On Christmas Eve, 1,353 people attended worship and presented their “Ghana Christmas Miracle Offering”. All of the funds raised will go to people in Ghana.
Through The Ghana Project the church is working with communities in Northern Ghana to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities and to build schools and churches. Since 2010, more than $900,000 has been collected for The Ghana Project. The Ghana Project is an ongoing effort. To make a donation or learn more, visit www.helpghananow.com.
Kingsway UMC in Springfield used the Advent Conspiracy materials and encouraged their congregation to have a meaningful Advent/Christmas celebration by Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.
“It was an extremely emotional kick off and turned out to be a perfect fit for our congregation,” said Rev. Jon Spalding.
Opening worship saw 100 children whose parents are in prison adopted with 60 people delivering gifts later on. The church donated 820 toys to those in need in Springfield, with more than 140 people serving in the toy store, gift preparations for nursing homes and assisting families in need. Another 15 people served a meal for all the staff at their partner school and 75 scarves and hats were knitted as gifts. Bus passes and 100 gift cards, along with another 125 scarves and hats, were knitted for RARE Breed, a homeless teen shelter. A meal was served, and the church gave away their Christmas Eve offering to Crosslines to feed those in need in their community - $63,374.68.