Jonny Bell, Children's and Families Outreach Worker at St George's Swallowbeck, shares details of their unusual initiative to celebrate the Nativity.

He writes:

"2020 brought us all types of challenges - including how to engage our local community with the Christmas Story during a time of increased uncertainty about what we would or wouldn’t be able to put on. It forced us to think creatively and explore new opportunities to take the message of Jesus’ birth out of the four walls that make up our church building and into the lives of the people in our community.

"The result was to take people on a different journey, to explore the Christmas Story in a way they perhaps haven’t seen before, through the art of Scarecrows!

"We organised eight scenes that depicted a different part of the Christmas Story from the angel’s message to Mary; the travelling wise men through to the shepherds in the field. All of these we created in scarecrow form and placed in the gardens of congregational members in the streets surrounding the church. A map was designed and placed outside the church for people to collect or they could download a copy from the church website. This took them on a journey to find each scene, finishing back at church to see our life-size Nativity scene and to collect a free gift bag containing sweets and treats as well as a Christian tract about the true meaning of Christmas.

"It was a real group effort with church members making wooden scarecrow frames, donating Nativity costumes or even making sheep and camels for the various scenes! With an estimated 50 families taking part in the trail over four days it generated a real buzz of excitement. It was a brilliant way of ‘doing things differently’ and our hope is to build on these links throughout 2021 and to continue to show that as a church we have the creativity to engage people with the good news of Jesus."