Churches in Portswood, Southampton hosted an open air Christmas event on Sunday 13 December on Portswood Rec. The event, now in its second year, was organised by 3 local churches – Highfield, Portswood and St Denys – out of a desire to celebrate Christmas with the local community. The event has grown since last year, with 850 gathering for the festivities on Portswood Rec which was once again furnished with a stage, large Christmas tree, fairy lights, free food, brass band, choir, glowsticks and even a magician.
The event was a great opportunity for families in Southampton to get involved with festivities, as the three churches took their Christmas celebrations to the wider community. Everyone was welcome and, as well as members of the host churches, the event was also attended by many people who had no previous engagement with the church, or had lost touch with the church.
The local high street shops were not left out either! Some donated refreshments to the event and many were involved in the ‘Portswood Shopping Challenge’. The shops said what they would give as a gift to baby Jesus and had their responses turned into an alternative Christmas shopping list. A competition #whatwouldyougivehim via Facebook, Twitter and a website encouraged people to think about what present they would give to Jesus. Ideas ranged from the witty – complete works of Winnie the Pooh, stone tablets and carpentry tools – to the wise – a plane ticket to Syria, love, praise and respect. The winners were announced during Carols on the Rec and were given prizes of vouchers for a local ice cream parlour!
Sammy Jordan, Children and Families Pastor at Highfield Church who helped organise the event, said: “It was a great success, and an excellent way to come together as a community to celebrate this special time of year. We were really excited about celebrating Christmas with the people of Portswood! It was fantastic to see so many people come along and experience the great atmosphere, join in with the carol singing and enjoy a free mince pie! Christmas is a wonderful time of year and gives us an opportunity to celebrate with our community. The event was popular with families from local schools who turned up in their hundreds, as well as people who lived locally and church members. If all that sounds like a great alternative to the X Factor final then watch out for details of the event next year!”