Halloween goes to church

Local congregations host Halloween alternatives

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— This Halloween, some parents and their children opted not to canvas the block in search of candy.

They went to church instead.

Halloween - a yearly celebration some associate with the demonic - poses unique challenges to the religious community. In response, several churches opened their doors Wednesday night, offering prizes, games, food and, of course, candy - all the appeal of the trick-or-treat tradition and more.

For many, it's a matter of safety. For others, it's a means of outreach or an opportunity to educate parents and children about the holiday's perceived negative connotations. Whatever the motivation, church activities this year drew both members and non-members, often in significant quantities.

"We had a lot of kids - over 100," said Rod Compton, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. His church's activities included games - nine total - and a cakewalk.

"It keeps them safer (than) being out on the street," he said, adding, "We want to show (children) that Christians can have fun, too. The kids had a blast."

Traber Cass, pastor of First Christian Church, said the church's annual Fun Fest drew in almost equal numbers of members and non-members Wednesday night.

"It was at least half and half," he said.

Zach Allen and his children were among the numbers who filled First Christian Church. For him, the greatest attraction to the program was knowing "it's a safe place to take the kids."

Cass said the Fun Fest was a means of connecting with the community.

"We're not just trying to get people to come to church," he said. "The picture is to show God himself. ...We want people to see that a relationship with God is a good thing. Events like this provide a venue for that."

For other churches, the holiday's negative perception remained a concern.

"Halloween isn't a Christian holiday," said LuAnn Kline, secretary at First Baptist Church. "It has ancient roots with the Druids and Celts."

Rather than focusing on the negative, she said, "We teach (children) about Jesus."

"It's an alternative to the wickedness of the holiday," Rosie Potter said in reference to the Halloween activities hosted at the Yampa Valley Baptist Church, of which her husband, Dale is pastor. She said the church's Halloween program educated and entertained.

"The Bible has definite things to say about witches and mediums," or individuals who communicate with the dead, she said.

The church provided alternate activities to the traditional Halloween celebrations. Among them, a chili cookoff contest, a pinyata and a Bible costume contest drew both parents and children.

"The main purpose (of the event) is for kids to have fun," Potter said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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