Graefenburg Baptist begins affordable Christmas program

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By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Affordable Christmas are two words we don’t often place side-by-side. For many of us, the holiday season is anything but affordable.

But the folks at Graefenburg Baptist Church have a different idea. They have dreamed up a new program to help a handful of families have an affordable Christmas this year.

“There are about ten families whom we have come to know, either through their participation in church activities, or through relationships with church members,” said Philip Meade, pastor of the church. “Our members are moved to help them this Christmas season, not through handouts but through a church ‘store,’ where people can come and purchase gifts for their families.”

Graefenburg Baptist’s plan is about dignity, about giving people a chance to make their own gift selections and make their own purchases, but at a discount from what they would pay at a retail store.

This is the first year the church has offered their Affordable Christmas program. The idea stemmed from a church-planting event Meade attended last year.

 “One of the outreach ideas practiced in the new church was to offer a similar ‘church store’ for neighbors in the community,” he said. “As a church, we seek to support both the spiritual needs of people as well as the physical and practical needs. We do this through our relationships with one another. We do this by welcoming and respecting the dignity of people who turn to the church with their needs.”

“What makes this program unique is that it grows out of the relationships and connections we have with people in our immediate neighborhood.”

Graefenburg Baptist is located in far eastern Shelby County, and church members have contacts with neighbors in both Shelby and Franklin counties. “Our dream is to slowly expand the Affordable Christmas program to offer satellite ‘stores’ in both counties,” Meade said. “This has potential to really connect with people and help meet their needs.”

For the past several weeks, church members have had the opportunity to pick up Shop for Dignity forms. These shopping lists are designated for children ages 1 to 5 years, 6 to 12 years and 13 to 18 years. They offer gift-giving suggestions, which have been gathered from families who will make purchases from the “store.”

Items include UK shirts and swag, clothes, DVDs, books, toys, Bibles, puzzles, board games, dolls, homemaker toys and monster trucks. Members are encouraged to spend no more than $50 on their gift purchases, which they will donate to the “store.”

Items are then sold to participating families at one-tenth the retail price. Approximately 25 children will receive gifts purchased from the Affordable Christmas Store this year.

“We’ve had amazing support from the congregation for this program,” Meade said. :The first day we put out the Shop for Dignity forms, they were all picked up. People are bringing in their gifts this weekend and we’ll open our store to our invited customers next week.”

 “We’re starting small this year, since it’s our first time to offer the program. Each family who will shop with us has received an invitation and has given input on the items we offer in the store.”

When families come to shop next week, the church will serve a meal and offer a time to share the Gospel along with their Christmas cheer.

“We hope that offering the Affordable Christmas Store to our neighbors in need will give people a chance to see what a church family does together. In sharing the Gospel, we support each other like a family. We give glory to God in what we do for one another.”

One other activity a church family does together is celebrate.

Graefenburg Baptist marks two milestones today with its Grace Notes Choir of senior adults. Ten years ago this week, Jay Padgett began this travelling choir, and they mark their 200th performance today at Amber Oaks Assisted Living Community in Shelbyville. Their 201st performance is set for next Friday (Dec. 14) at Crestview Care Center. Both concerts begin at 10:30 a.m.