A Community Christmas Party and New Years Eve Party was held for residents of Ilford close to our community centre, in order to dispel myths about Christianity and allow people to build new friendships while partaking in some traditional festivities.
On 23rd of December we had a traditional Christmas meal not one that would usually be recognised in the UK where the western tradition of eating turkey and roast potatoes is prevalent. BACA had decided that visitors would be treated to an Asian Christian meal of Chicken Biryani Rice, lamb curry and other Asian food. The invitation was open to all the local community to attend and we were happy to receive around 15 people most of whom were Muslim or Sikh. During the meal people of non-Christian faiths asked about the many different Christian traditions they were unsure of such as the reasons for putting up Christmas trees, myths about Santa and eating of turkey, and we were able to explain some of the history behind these customs which have little to do with the biblical account of Christs birth. Most importantly it was an opportunity however to share more accurate accounts of Christ birth and how his message of hope and peace changed the world.
Visitors were open to this and many more less theological conversations and friendship bonds were strengthened.
During new years eve BACA organised a community get together to celebrate the new year. Once again an Asian meal was shared with visitors who include a very diverse group, with Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Muslim and Christian visitors in attendance. The event was bigger than expected with over 40 visitors over the course of the night at our very small hall. We were particularly pleased to see that a large number of the teenagers who meet at our non-alcoholic chill-out lounge joined us. Of course running an event like this means that our volunteers cannot attend church prayer events for the new year, so it was pleasing to see some of our friends from High Road Baptist Church join us later in the early hours of the morning after finishing there.
The celebration was a time for people of all diversities to come together to welcome in the new year, which was special as it also hailed the turn of a decade. Moreover, what was particularly important for us as a group was the opportunity to pray for 2020 to be a year of blessing and revival. The fact that no visitor took any offence from our Christian prayers was a remarkable situation, especially when you consider the wide diversity. To share our prayers so openly with people of wide diversity was a real joy and allowed opportunity for people to understand how Christian prayer is conducted, that prayers are conversations with God and that we use our prayers not for malice but to bless all people.