By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, October 23, 2003
HAMPTON — Although its hallowed — holy — significance is rooted in the fact that it happens to be the night before All Saints Day on November 1, Halloween has traditionally centered around things that can easily be regarded as less than saintly. Images of ghosts, witches, goblins and other evil entities seem to take center stage this time of year, thanks in part to early Celtic and Druid beliefs and traditions that have carried on to the present.
However, like many other Christian churches, Faith Community Church (FCC) in Hampton wanted to focus on the godly aspect of the fall holiday. So, a dozen years ago, parishioners at FCC decided to utilize the Halloween traditions of wearing costumes and going door-to-door, to reach out to members of the community.
Dressed up like well-known Bible characters, FCC kids and adults alike canvassed a number of Hampton neighborhoods every Halloween for about five years, delivering to each house packets that contained candy and the Gospel message. Many residents were surprised to find Trick-or-Treaters at their doors, eager to give rather than receive, and the visits went over very well.
About six years ago, however, FCC parishioners switched gears a bit, and instead of going on door-to-door visits, they began holding a Halloween event at one FCC family's home in Hampton. Again, dressed in a variety of costumes, the folks from Faith Community Church welcomed neighborhood Trick-or-Treaters who — instead of just making a random stop to collect some candy — actually had the opportunity to participate in about a half-dozen different fun activities at stations set up in the front yard.
Since then, FCC's family-friendly Halloween event has met with great success — about 300-350 costumed "guests" stop by each year to play different Bible-centered games. Parents of young children like it because, as FCC's Pastor Bob Lovejoy points out, "it gives kids an opportunity to have fun apart from the scary side of Halloween." And they can tell the kids really enjoy it because, as FCC parent Pam Holzapfel notes, "It has an upbeat atmosphere — there is a lot of laughing and fun." Observes Ian McNally, who participates faithfully every year, "It was cool that [so many] people came last year."
This year's theme is based on the popular "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy, with the appropriate question being asked, "What is Precious to You?" In following along with the theme of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved and meaningful tales from Middle Earth, parishioners will be dressed up as characters from the movies; the games will be centered around the theme as well.
The event will also feature refreshments for parents who are Trick-or-Treating with their youngsters. Children who participate receive a bag of goodies, including an assortment of candy, a Gospel message, and information about Faith Community Church.
"We usually get a fantastic response," says FCC Pastor Brian Abasciano, who, like Pastor Bob, notes that the church wishes "to offer a friendly, fun alternative to some of the dark stuff that surrounds Halloween, as well as to share God's love with people."
"We as a church are looking forward to participating in [this] Halloween celebration with the town," adds Kevin Kimball, FCC's Campus Crusade for Christ missionary to Russia. And, notes parishioner Heather Roberson, the event is "where our church community comes together to share the message of hope that Jesus has."
Faith Community Church's annual Halloween event will take place (weather permitting) on Halloween night, Friday, October 31, from 5:30-8 p.m. at 15 Leavitt Road in Hampton. Great games and treats for kids, refreshments for parents, and a family-friendly theme in a safe neighborhood setting will light up youngsters' Halloween in a meaningful, non-threatening way. Stop by and join the fun!