At Bellefontaine Grace Church (BGC) in Bellefontaine, Ohio, their mission in relating to the Gospel is to “learn it, live it, give it.” Since its founding in 2016, BGC has pursued this mission in creative ways both inside their church and out in their community.
For several years BGC helped Marmon Valley Farm, a local faith-based farm ministry, with their community Christmas event. Participants would enjoy a wagon ride around the farm, stopping several times to hear a reading or see a performance of the Christmas story. The ride ended at the barn for the final scene of the Christmas story with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus and a pastor would share the Gospel message. Members from BGC acted in the sketches and pastors and residents gave the final message.
In 2021, BGC asked Marmon Valley if they could use the idea for a Christmas event in Bellefontaine, calling it City Christmas. The wagon ride took participants around the outskirts of town, stopping several times for the Christmas story. City Christmas also offered iceless ice skating, hot chocolate, cider, cookies, a scavenger hunt, and a walk-through Christmas village where kids received treats from church members in a trunk-or-treat style.
City Christmas was received so well by the community that this year the town of Bellefontaine asked BGC to hold it on the same day as the town’s annual Christmas parade. Community members and businesses donated resources and sponsored activities to make the event even bigger than the year before.
BGC ran wagon rides before and after the parade, sharing the Gospel during each ride. Roads were blocked off and activities were set up in downtown Bellefontaine. They had iceless ice skating, live music, popcorn, cookies, hot chocolate, walk-through Christmas village, light-up putt putt, a life-size snow globe, Where’s Waldo scavenger hunt where kids collected nativity scene finger puppets from each Waldo they found, and hundreds of Christmas inflatables.
“This event was a huge encouragement to our church who strives to be light in darkness,” said Pastor Ethan Bunce. “We had over 200 volunteers from our local body serving our community! It has been so wonderful to interact with the city of Bellefontaine in a meaningful way. And we believe we were a bright light through City Christmas!”