Sharing the gospel and goodies galore
By Lindsay Peyton
Churches in the Texas Annual Conference are offering a safer way to trick or treat this year. Instead of sending children door-to-door, parents can take them to church for a festive trunk-or-treat. Costumed children go from one decorated parked car to the next to find candy. These events offer a fun alternative, held on church grounds and staffed by trusted volunteers. Families are finding these church-sponsored festivities especially appealing in the midst of COVID when ringing strangers’ doorbells might feel a bit too scary.
Pumpkin prayer at Athens FUMC
Athens FUMC hosts its Trunk or Treat from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 225 Lovers Lane in Athens. Billed as a “not so scary Halloween party,” there will be food, games, costumes and, of course, candy.
Associate pastor Melanie Fierbaugh said that there will be about 40 trunks to visit, as well as about 15 games scattered throughout church campus. In addition, there is a photo station. Everything is free, except the Kona Ice concession stand.
Upon entering, families can sign up to win one of four gift baskets. Children receive a bag, printed with the pumpkin prayer, as well as a storybook. “God cleans you up and puts the light of Jesus in you,” Fierbaugh explained.
Senior Pastor Chris Harrison will be on site, sharing gospel with children. Fierbaugh explained that each event at Athens FUMC has a greater purpose, to expand on discipleship and build fellowship.
For instance, prayer warriors will be stationed at the event with signs that read, “Need Prayer?”
At the Trunk or Treat, families are also invited back to the church’s monthly Parent’s Night Out. Each event has a theme, and activity stations for children.
“We never do an event just to do an event or to stay busy,” she said. “There needs to be a connection to Christ.”
Family fun at Lake Houston UMC
Last year, Lake Houston UMC started Trunk or Treat as a new fall tradition. Director of children’s ministry Christen Thibodeaux explained that church staff brainstormed the idea. Then after seeing interest on Facebook, they decided to go for it. “We thought, Let’s do this,” she recalled.
Volunteers decorated their cars and loaded the trunks with candy. About 25 vehicles showed up. “People went all out,” Thibodeaux said. “It was a load of fun.”
Goodie bags read “Jesus walks with me,” “Glow with God,” and “Light of Jesus.” The bags were stuffed with information about the church and family worship opportunities, the pumpkin prayer, a coloring sheet and a necklace. Then, trick-or-treaters filled them with candy.
Witnessing the church family come together was the most rewarding part,” Thibodeaux explained. “It was the sweeting thing, just all the laughter, the music, people dancing,” she said.
This year, Trunk or Treat will return from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 31 at the church, 23606 FM 2100 in Huffman.
The event coincides with the Lake Houston UMC’s last night of the pumpkin patch. This marks the 20th year that the church has hosted a patch, with all pumpkins coming from the Navajo Nation. The purchase of pumpkins supports the partnership with the Native Americans in Farmington, New Mexico, as well as serving as a fundraiser for missions and youth and children’s ministry.
Thibodeaux said both the pumpkin patch and trunk or treat offer opportunities for the church to connect with the community and for fellowship among members. “It’s so fun to meet the community, invite them to church and help them pick a pumpkin,” she said.
Putting children first at Perritte Memorial UMC
Perritte Memorial UMC’S Trunk or Treat is back after COVID placed it on hold last year. The event, held in partnership with the SFA Wesley Foundation, begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 1025 Durst Street in Nacogdoches.
“The more things we can do to serve children, the better,” Pastor Keith Broyles said.
He is looking forward to offering a safer way to celebrate Halloween in Nacogdoches. “We can give kids a safe environment to do the things we were once able to do that just aren’t feasible anymore,” he explained. “Do things that are safe. Don’t take a risk. It’s not worth it.”
The youngest residents of Nacogdoches are a top priority at Perritte Memorial UMC. The church also provides prayer partners with its nearby elementary school. In fact, Broyles recently delivered a batch of paracord jack-o’-lanterns to teachers and is now crafting turkeys for Thanksgiving.
The pastor is a firm believer in investing in the future of the church. “If we are going to fix the woes of society, we’ve got to fix our kids,” he said. “We’ve got to give our kids decent role models. We’ve got to do things to let them know they are important.”
Driving through the trunks at FUMC Nederland
Holding a Halloween event has been a long tradition at FUMC Nederland, office administrator Jeana Evans explained. It has evolved over time from an outdoor to indoor festival. Last year, because of COVID, it changed again.
Instead of a traditional Trunk or Treat, the church hosted a drive-through. “The kids don’t even get out of their car,” Evans said. “We hand out candy, treats and hotdogs.”
The event was such a success that FUMC Nederland planned a reprise for this year. “The line went for blocks,” Evans said.
This year’s Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat is planned for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 104 N. 13th Street in Nederland. Children don their costumes, and church members decorate their cars.
“It’s a safe way to trick-or-treat instead of going door-to-door,” Evans said. “It’s great fellowship for the church, and we get to see all the precious children in their costumes.”
Families look forward to celebrating Halloween with the church. “They know we’re going to do it, and they keep it on their schedules,” Evans said.