When the stars come out in November, they impact people from Kentucky and around the world.
The stars are paper cut-outs hung on trees in the fellowship hall at Christ Church United Methodist (Louisville District) and a focal point of the church’s Festival of Stars. Part of a long-standing holiday tradition at Christ Church, each star describes a gift wish from someone associated with one of the church’s mission partners. This year the stars represent children and youth from Portland Promise Center and Wesley House, residents at Wesley Manor Retirement Community, and members of refugee families who have relocated in Louisville. Church members select stars from the trees and return the wrapped gifts by the end of November so they can be distributed by the organizations.
Christ Church has participated in the gift-giving project, known as Reach for the Stars, for over a decade. In 2008, it evolved into the Festival of Stars. Small groups were invited to decorate Christmas trees, which were sold in a silent auction. Proceeds from the sales of nine beautifully decorated trees were given to local ministry partners. This year, 14 trees and other decorative items sparkle and shine in the fellowship hall, awaiting bids.
Ugandan crafts, including bracelets, necklaces, baskets, and dolls, are also sold at the festival. The money from these sales funds Christ Church’s Uganda mission partnership. Some of the projects the church has helped with in Katosi, Uganda are the building of a medical clinic, medical training for clinic staff, vocational training for students, and a chicken farm for eggs and meat. In addition, the church’s Christian Crafters group sells baby blankets, quilts, tote bags, and other handmade items to raise money for a variety of missions that it supports throughout the year.
The festival helps many groups. Among those benefitting from the 2008 and 2009 events are St. Matthews Area Ministries, the United Methodist Children's Home, Fourth Avenue UMC’s Open Door food ministry, Wesley House, Portland, and Habitat for Humanity. The festival also brings awareness of fair trade products to church members as chocolate, coffee, and other fairly traded foods are available for purchase. (You can read more about fairly traded products at UMCOR’s web site. Products can be ordered through Equal Exchange, a fair-trade organization.)
Last year, the festival raised $2,415 for the church’s global and local mission partners, according to Dr. Bonnie MacDonald, Minister for Outreach and Justice at Christ Church. This year, the Festival of Stars runs three Sundays, providing a pretty setting for helping others and shopping for a cause.
Reach for a Star gifts
Decorated trees are sold in a silent auction