Advent Day 11: Carluke church prepares to welcome back community for Christmas celebration

After a two-year pause forced by Covid, St John’s Church in Carluke is getting ready to welcome its community to share some Christmas cheer.

Once again, following its annual Christmas Day service, the church will open its doors to offer a Christmas meal to those who are on their own and families who might not otherwise be able to afford a proper Christmas dinner.

Carluke minister Rev Elijah Obinna.

The regular event had to skip 2020 and 2021 as a result of Covid restrictions, but the last St John’s Christmas Dinner hosted more than 40 guests who were served by a team of volunteers. As the cost of living crisis takes hold, this year could see even more people of all ages and from Carluke and the local area come to St John’s for food and fellowship.

Those who do turn up can expect Christmas dinner with all the usual trimmings and more thanks to the support of the congregation and a team of community volunteers as well as the local businesses who donate food and other goodies.

Rev Dr Elijah Obinna, who has been minister at St John’s since 2016, said those who come along will have a lot to look forward to.

“It’s a full Christmas dinner,” he said.

“In 2019 we had a short church service before the dinner and many people came along. And during the dinner we sing Christmas songs. We try to make it like a family Christmas. There is time for singing, there is time for a blether, there is time for just moving around and speaking to people. People don’t feel they are in a hurry to leave.

“It’s been wonderful and it has been a very powerful outreach programme for us with the community.”

St John’s Church in Carluke gets ready to welcome its guests for Christmas dinner.

Volunteers’ vital role

Getting to the church on time to join the celebrations need not be a worry, even on Christmas Day, as Dr Obinna pointed out.

“Members of the community volunteer to pick up people, who have no other form of transport, from their homes and pick them up again at the end” he said.

“We also have people who volunteer to prepare and serve the meal and others who come along and sit down and share stories. People of all ages want to come and help.”

As well as the individuals who support the event, Dr Obinna is also grateful to the local retailers and others whose support makes the Christmas dinner possible.

“The local businesses give us ingredients” he said.

Volunteers can come from some distance to be a part of the Christmas celebration and to show their support.

“One year we had one volunteer helper who came from England,” Dr Obinna revealed.

“He was in the Army and just looking for something to do to make Christmas a bit special for him, so he just signed up and came along.”

Anyone who wants to be a part of this year’s event or wants to offer support can contact the church via its website or Facebook page.

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Throughout the season, we’ll bring you stories, videos and prayers that highlight how church members around the country are celebrating the birth of Jesus and sharing their faith, hope and love with everyone in their communities.

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