Harvest festivals in churches are traditionally held around the time of Thanksgiving and celebrate the successful bringing in of the produce from the fields and trees. It coincides with the leaves on the trees changing colours and is a colourful, joyous occasion for many who wish to thank God for the food on their table and the beauties of nature. Harvestfests in churches give a welcome opportunity to mark the occasion.
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Invite the congregation to hold a harvest bazaar in the church or on the church grounds where they can sell crafts, quality second hand items or homemade foods for a good cause. Advertise the event within the community and in the local newspaper to ensure a good turnout. On the day, serve refreshments for visitors and arrange games for children, including tossing balls in containers or throwing rings over items that can be won. To mark the importance of the harvest, you can arrange for the proceeds to be given to a struggling farming community in a poor country.
Arrange a scavenger hunt on the church grounds where the children have to find and solve cryptic clues relating to autumn, nature or the Bible. Questions can include "A piece of canine communication," "Receptacle for ice cream made of wood" or "Forbidden fruit?", the answers being bark, pine cone and apple respectively. Have a selection of small prizes ready for the winner and two runners-up. Prizes can include religious children's books, Bible verse bookmarks or small toys.
Depending on the size of the congregation, you can arrange for a procession with either decorated floats, or children and adults carrying produce and lanterns. Lead the procession through the area where most members of the congregation live, and conclude it in the church with a service. Have the church decorated with harvest items and utensils, including tools and baskets, fruits and vegetables, and bundles of hay. Before the service begins, let the bearers of food from the procession place their produce at the altar.
Blessing of Animals
Farm animals used to play an important part in bringing in the harvest, and you can point out their significance by arranging a service where a minister or priest blesses animals. Invite the congregation to bring their pets to church, or hold a service outdoors. Conduct a simple ceremony using Bible references to animals, and include the pets in prayers. Ensure that everyone in the congregation is informed about the event, which allows people with allergies and specific animal phobias to stay away.
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