Congregation Uses Christmas Tree Fundraiser to Help Charities

Seeking to use a congregational holiday favorite to respond to the unique challenge of evangelism during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gary Heard presented the idea of selling Christmas trees to help bolster his local church’s budget.

Gary, a member of St. JME Lutheran (St. John–St. Matthew–Emanuel) in Brooklyn, NY, had initially proposed the idea to members of his congregation in the 1990s while a member of Advent Lutheran in Manhattan.

Gary remarked, “We were struggling at the time as a congregation; the number of people had dwindled. We did all sorts of things to try to raise money, like clothing sales and those types of things. In Manhattan in November and December, there are countless trees being sold out on the street, and we thought that would be a perfect way for us to raise some money.”

Though St. JME Lutheran is not struggling financially, upon hearing the idea, Pastor David Parsons said the event presents an evangelism opportunity for members of the congregation to witness the love of Christ to others. Additionally, persons from outside the congregation can get involved in the holiday spirit and learn about the church’s mission and ministry.

Traditionally, the event is a sidewalk fair that features trees, hot chocolate, cookies, and other giveaways. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to hold the event this year was a topic of much discussion.

The congregation usually sells around 70 trees, making approximately $2,000 that the congregation then donates to a local charity they choose each year. Many persons even overpay for the trees to help support the charity cause.

An outstanding community event, Pastor Parsons said, “[It gets] busy New Yorkers, Brooklynites, who have long commutes into the city, and brings them together to do ministry for the sake of their neighbors.”

Source: Living Lutheran