Some Urban Saints’ Groups have managed to keep gathering throughout the various restrictions and periods of lockdown. The volunteers running these Groups have found ways to adapt, using online tools and other alternative methods of connecting with the Group members. For other Groups, opportunities have been more limited, with sessions suspended and annual highlight events under threat. Even in those Groups that have struggled to maintain regular contact, the “can-do” spirit has provoked creativity and adaptability. When the opportunities have presented themselves, these faithful volunteers have done all they can to make something wonderful and memorable happen.
One such Group that found 2020 particularly challenging is Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders, led by Nigel Spencer and the team. Having taken the decision to drop off some Christmas packages to the homes of Group members and been so moved by the response they received, the team took further steps to rethink one of their much-loved annual events. Nigel picks up the story…
"...always be proactive, never give up, pray without ending and don't be surprised at the blessings we reap..."
'No Crusaders, no Christingle?' The stark reality hit home. For many years Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders had held their annual Christingle Celebration at Candlemas, (at the end of January) but the lockdown at the outset of 2021 threatened to deny us of this much-anticipated tradition.
'Find a way, or make one!' has become a personal motto of mine over the years. If we could not hold our Christingle Service as usual, then why not take examples out into the community? Even better, why not deliver a kit of Christingle parts to the young people to construct themselves. We could include Children's Society collection pots, Prayer cards, instructions as well as a personal letter to every young person... Simple enough perhaps, but we still needed to source all the materials. 36 large paper bags, oranges, packets of sweets, dried fruit, 144 cocktail sticks, candles, red tape, Prayer cards, sets of instructions, collecting pots, stickers and the letter too. All with just 10 days to go till Candlemas!
It's remarkable what you can find in the store boxes of a well-established Group and with help from friends, other members of the team and a trip to the local shops, things were looking promising. Then reality struck. Yes, I could easily collect the kit contents but arranging it in such a way to make each kit deliverable was quite another matter. Us Primary School Teachers are known for our resourcefulness you know… and as the photo shows, a little bit of improvisation and ingenuity was all it took to ready 36 filled bags for distribution throughout Harwich, Dovercourt Bay and Ramsey.
Two of us took on the delivery and many Crusaders and their families came to say 'Hello' – socially distanced, of course. We had a great reception - you would have thought we were delivering the Crown Jewels. Well we were, I suppose. It was the Good News that not only we Leaders, we Crusaders cared for our Group, but that we did for others in the community as well. Deliveries done, we were rejuvenated and not at all tired in spite of the hours spent on those parcels of love and hope.
Later that day, we received the first pictures of Christingles, messages of love with prayers and thoughts and even a video of the kits assembled. It’s been such a great response, including over £60 raised for the Children's Society already.
The lessons to us are clear; that we should always be proactive, to never give up, to pray without ending and to not be surprised at the Blessings that we reap. Yes it does take time and effort, but we are the arms and legs to do the work to further the Kingdom. In a quiet yet so positive a way, the actions speak better than the finest of sermons. If we can show care in such a minute measure, how much more are we cared for by our Heavenly Father....
Nigel Spencer MBE – Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders
What lessons have you been learning during the last few months? Where have you seen God at work in your lives, your family, your local Groups and your wider community? We’d love to hear your stories so do send them in so we can share them on and encourage others too.