Northwest District “Showers” Moms-to-Be
Dozens of churches in the Northwest District enriched their Christmas Eve service and holiday season with an innovative “baby shower” for new moms, inspired by the Christmas story of the baby Jesus.
“It was great fun to see the lay leaders and pastors debating whether to choose the fluffy pink booties or the onesies with frog embellishments!” This comment from Northwest District Superintendent Sandra Smith is not a typical description related to charge conference activities – except for this year. Explains Sandra, “The Baby Shower for Jesus was a year-end project of the Northwest District. The idea came from the District Leadership Team. As for the “seed gifts,” I took a basket of adorable baby things to each charge conference, and each church got to pick out something that caught their attention. Church leaders took these back to their church as a visual to kick off their campaign.”
Nearly all the churches in the Northwest District participated and Carroll Spring UMC was the first to get coverage in the local media. Athens Daily Review editor Chad Wilson highlighted the event in his Christmas-themed column. “As you are seeking a way to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas this season,” he wrote, “I encourage you to take part in the baby shower for needy mothers being hosted by Carroll Spring UMC.” The newspaper also featured the church prominently in photos from the Christmas Eve service, including a picture of the pastor with a pile of baby clothes covering a small manger at the altar.
Each church in the district chose the kind of shower they wanted to have. Payne Springs UMC asked the community to bring disposable diapers. Rev. Wade Harman (Colfax Circuit) told the other pastors in the neighborhood about the project, and they joined the effort as well.
Sandra notes, “Each church had the freedom to design their project for their community. Some churches collected items throughout Advent and others invited the community to bring items to the Christmas Eve service. For example, Lanes Chapel collected 30 boxes of disposable diapers for St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation in Tyler, and other folks brought whatever baby items they fall in love with at the store.” Cedar Creek Lake UMC gave their items to the community food pantry.
Another church chose to adopt a local young single-mom-to-be and threw her a shower after church one Sunday. As Rev. William David Ellis of Wesley UMC and Crescent UMC explains, “One of our members befriended a mom-to-be at a local Whataburger and took her under her wing, so both churches determined this was the person we should bless. She attended church and, at our baby shower that afternoon she was blessed to tears.” Adds David, “She enjoyed our service and asked if she could come back. She said no one had ever cared for her like that and we told her it was because of Jesus.”
Edgewood-Cheatham UMC chose to focus on meeting the need for diapers and wipes. “We have a growing list of single moms in our community,” notes Rev. Alan van Hooser, “and hope to establish a diaper ministry that has been inspired from this district-wide project.”