By: Kevin Kindelin
Reaching out into the community can be done in many ways. Our recent Prayer Walk where we took to the streets in prayer, and our Backpacks, Blessings and Barbecue in the Bandshell where we took our service to Community Park are among many of the activities and ministries where we take our message out into the community to show people what we’re all about. We can also reach out by inviting the community to us as we are for the 3rd annual Trunk or Treat on October 25. Candy, games, and other fun Halloween activities will be offered to Immanuel children and adults and as many non-Immanuel, unfamiliar faces as possible that we can attract to our premises.
Halloween has its origins in medieval Europe as a solemn celebration of saints and martyrs held on November 1st, or All Saints Day also known as All Hallows, Day of all the Saints. The night before, poor children and adults would go to the doors of the wealthy in the community and beg for treats, usually small cakes or pastries in exchange for prayers for the souls of the homeowner’s dead relatives. Over the centuries, Halloween has morphed into the secularized, day of festivities filled with trick or treating and the resulting abundance of sweet treats along with costumes, haunted houses, and other activities.
Two years ago Pastor Tom had an idea to bring the community to us using Halloween as the vehicle. Undoubtedly, many people in the community would never associate the fun activities they participate in on Halloween with a church. Why not show them safe, family fun in a church parking lot filled with fun events and decorated car trunks filled with candy (vans and trucks welcome). Trunk or Treat was born. Primarily staffed by Immanuel people the first year, it has evolved into a church-wide, community-wide event. Last year, more attractions were added. There was a bounce house for the kids to let off some of that sugar-fueled energy. The LLC K9 Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities were there. There was bobbing for apples, but not how you might think. One gentleman brought a borrowed new front-end loader tractor and filled the bucket full of water and apples! It certainly made bobbing a bit more challenging!
This year, anyone within our congregation, school or community is invited to bring a vehicle, decorate it and fill it with candy. Community people can even promote their businesses as long as they’re handing out something fun or sweet. Halloween is a great opportunity to give more than just candy. We will also be collecting for the Good Samaritan Food Pantry. Whoever brings a donation (food or monetary) will receive a “thank you” gift. This is just another way we are reaching out and helping the community. Because of this effort, Thrivent Financial decided to sponsor Trunk or Treat by contributing funds toward its ongoing success.
In keeping with our Stronger Together, Building a Community in Christ campaign, we are partnering with First United Methodist Church from across the street this year in an effort to provide the community with a safe, fun, highly entertaining, Christ-like, family oriented Halloween experience. FUMC will feature activities different from ours such as a corn relay, pumpkin bowling, and a pumpkin bean bag toss to take advantage of their lawn space. They will also have a table to decorate trick or treat bags and a scarecrow face cutout for photo ops. We’ll be offering all the events and activities from last year as well as some new Halloween-themed carnival games, taking advantage of our parking lot space. Working together, we can offer the community a fun, safe, Christian based experience where people will want to come.
Linda Stammer, Event Coordinator and our Director of Admissions, said the vision of our two churches is that this event eventually becomes a “thing” whereby the folks of Palatine and surrounding communities return every year for “that Halloween event in downtown Palatine.” Last year, Pastor Tom wrote in his blog how thrilled he was to see so many people he didn’t know. Hopefully, if the trend continues, he’ll be filled with joy at the possibility of reaching so many more never before known souls in our community. That would be an awesome “thing!”