July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Church pays Christmas spirit forward

SHARON TWP. — Those going to Christmas Eve services at Connection Church may receive an envelope with a little bit of cash, but it won’t be for picking up last-minute gifts.

Money will be given out randomly to church-goers in the hopes that they use it to spread the Christmas spirit.

The church, at 2524 Medina Road, raised about $700 in a talent show fundraiser in September. That money will be divided into $10 amounts and passed out in 70 envelopes between the church’s 6 and 7:30 p.m. services today. Pastor Tony Myles said he asks the recipients to use the money to “pay it forward. Do whatever you can do to bring the idea of God with us to our relationships.”

A family who attended Connection Church’s Christmas Eve services last year used the $10 it received in the challenge to do a good deed to plant a garden. The family brought these zucchini to share with parishioners earlier this year. The church will once again have its $10 challenge at services today. (Photo provided)

He said the church wants to remind people they are able to help others, no matter how much or how little money they have in their bank accounts.

“We kind of want to empower people to help whether they have resources in their pocket or not,” he said.

Myles said the church first distributed the Christmas cheer cash at services last year. Several months later, he came to the church one day to see a basket full of freshly picked vegetables left on the doorstep, along with a note that said a family had used the money from the Christmas envelope to plant a garden.

“We’ve used the money to grow vegetables that we’ve shared with friends, family and various community members,” the note, from a woman named Jade, read.

The church passed out the vegetables at services later that week and people were bringing in treats like zucchini bread and muffins the next week.

“It’s this really cool snowball effect,” Myles said.

And dozens of other good deeds were done with the money from last year.

The church’s Web site, www.connectionchurch.org/10dollarchallenge.php, tells about the challenge and has testimonials from parishioners. One man donated the $10 to a local adoption agency. One family gave it to a Medina teacher to make paper copies for her classroom. One man used it to take a down-on-his-luck friend out to lunch.

Myles said the envelopes will also help people understand the significance of the very first Christmas, when a child was born seemingly with very few opportunities.

“It will help people understand what Jesus was born into. Let’s not just go through the service. I want people to really feel like they were empowered,” he said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.