First UMC Sealy Spreads the Joy of Easter One Egg at a Time
By: Sherri Gragg
Small Church, Huge Hunt
When First UMC, Sealy began their annual Palm Sunday Eggstravaganza, they made an intentional decision to include their community. That first year, the church hid 8,000 candy-filled eggs in Abe and Irene Levine Family Park in Sealy, Texas. When Church Administrator, Leslie Ellis, reflects on the inaugural event, she can’t help but laugh. “We thought 8,000 eggs was so much,” she says.
This year, the Eggstravaganza welcomed 800 children to hunt for an astonishing 30,000 eggs. That is an average of just over 37 eggs per child! Most of the eggs were filled with candy by the older members of the congregation. Community donations enabled the hunt to include 41 grand-prize eggs as well. Children took home amazing prizes including YMCA pool passes and swim lessons, bicycles, and Astro tickets.
When First UMC Sealy, a small church with an average weekly worship attendance of 80, made the decision to begin the hunt, there was no community Easter egg hunt in Sealy. During the past six years, the community has embraced the event as a town tradition. Not only has the hunt blossomed in the number of participants, the entire community works together to make it happen.
Each year, the Eggstravaganza is a free, volunteer-run event. Local businesses and organizations donate scores of prizes and refreshments. Ellis feels the hunt has not only helped the community get the chance to known First UMC Sealy better, it has also provided the church the opportunity to teach the community how to better work together for the common good.
According to Ellis, the egg hunt has opened the door for the church to build relationships with the local schools. The schools welcome the church to place fliers advertising the hunt throughout their facilities, and students from the local high school and junior high school volunteer to help run the event. This year, First UMC Sealy worked with the local PTA to provide a grand prize of a bouncy house party for one fortunate child’s entire class.
Each year, the church recycles as many eggs as possible. Once the hunt is over, volunteers take the empty eggs to the school’s Life Skills class for special needs individuals, and the students peel the tape off of each egg to get it ready for the next year. The activity not only provides them with a wonderful fine-motor skills activity, it enables them to contribute to their community as well. Once all of the eggs have been processed, the church treats the students to a pizza party.
Ellis says the Easter egg hunt is beautiful way for the church to share the love of Jesus with some of the most-needy families in Sealy. “Our school is a Title One school,” she said. “There are so many kids here who have absolutely nothing. This hunt means a lot to them. It is truly a church-wide effort.”