Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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August 2, 2010 05:30 PM

St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Hicksville turns 100 this year and, like many other congregations with anniversaries, they have been holding special events to mark the occasion. In January, the congregation celebrated 100 years of worship with a special service commemorating the church’s very first gathering as a community. February marked 100 years of weddings, with a special renewal of vows and wedding favors. March was 100 years of baptism, April was 100 years of Sunday School, and May was 100 years of confirmation.


In June, the celebration focused on 100 years of commitment to the young people in the community. In an effort to commemorate the beginning of the church’s Luther League, as well as honor its well-regarded nursery school, St. Stephen’s held a Kids’ Fair for the community. The other monthly events had required planning, of course—organizing a "Guess that Baby?" photo contest during the baptism celebrations, or finding hymns that might’ve been sung 100 years ago—but the fair was for the whole community, rather than an internal happening. A planning committee of 20 people set to work securing donations, organizing games, and inviting the community to celebrate alongside the church.


"The committee and I were so nervous for a few reasons," said Pastor Stephanie Pope. "One, we had never done it before. Two, a nearby event meant that parking would be a disaster. Three, the weather forecast was not good. We had a rain date, but many of our scheduled volunteers could only make the first date. There was no way of knowing how many people we might get."


The Kids’ Fair was a huge success, despite the worries. The rain held off, people found parking, and an astounding 70 volunteers turned out to help. Held on the church campus, over 250 people came. The fair featured something for everyone: a giant inflatable slide, crafts, games, face-painting, a fire truck and ambulance to explore, a sidewalk chalk contest, a magician, a DJ encouraging group dance, balloon animals, prayer flags, free raffle giveaways, and plentiful hot dogs, ices, cotton candy, and popcorn. Everything was free. "We didn’t charge a penny for anything," said member Dottie Eberhardt. "People could not believe that it was free." One participant asked, "How are you making any money?" A volunteer replied that the church wasn’t making any money—that the congregation just wanted to have the community over to celebrate with them.


The party ended up being an intergenerational, communal effort. Church kids were thrilled that something so cool was happening at their church. Parents were excited to be providing such fun for kids and families. Nursery school teachers ran crafts, art students from the high school helped out with face painting, and many senior members volunteered by giving away raffle prizes.


"Besides the welcoming the community in, I think that the best part for me was the people who got involved in making it happen," said Pr. Pope. "Many folks who had not served in any way before volunteered. People had a great time—it was a fabulous day."




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