In the summer the burning question for Hutton and Shenfield Union Church was “What shall we have as the theme for our Christmas Tree Festival this year?” Almost immediately God answered – “Our Natural World”.
Fast forward to December and the Festival had 32 trees and the entrants had really taken the theme to heart with knitted birds, animals, sea creatures, fruit and veg, plus handmade fish, stars and snowflakes or dried autumnal leaves adorning many trees.
A local secondary school, St Martins, ran a competition for the Year 7s to design a tree on the theme of the natural world. The winning entry came from Zara and Georgina who highlighted the devastating effect of rubbish on marine life.
The church deacons set up a prayer tree for people to write their prayers on the back of a star and add it to the tree; this was covered in prayers by the end of the festival.
Each person who came to the festival was invited to vote for their favourite adult and junior trees. Children were also given a quiz sheet with a question about each tree; for example, “what recycled items have been used to decorate this tree?” or “How many jellyfish are on this tree?” Some of the questions were also designed to make youngsters think, e.g. “What’s the life cycle of the butterfly?” if you studied the tree you could work out the answer. The winning trees, after a very closely fought contest, were Knitted Nature in the adult category and a tie between the Rainbow Tree of Hope and Pine Cone Family for the junior certificate.
Hutton and Shenfield Union Church received their Bronze Eco Church Award in November 2021, so were able to celebrate this at their Christmas festival too.
Written by Jean Burrows