When one of his members wanted to take a stand against the BUY! BUY! BUY! ethos of Christmas, Pastor Ben Hentschke from Ipswich Lutheran Parish in south-east Queensland suggested they raise money for clean water in Indonesia.
‘Everyone was on the same page in wanting to help others and buy less.’
He never imagined they’d raise enough for 150 water filters through Australian Lutheran World Service’s (ALWS) Gifts of Grace program!
‘The water filters were $69 each and we have around 300 worshippers across the three churches each Sunday, so in my mind I set a goal of 30 water filters for Advent’, Pastor Ben said.
Each Sunday throughout the year, the Ipswich congregations take two offerings: one to meet the needs of the church, and one to help others in need. The second involves handing around ceramic piggy banks – they call it ‘passing the pigs’.
The pigs were passed around during the first Sunday in Advent – and amazingly, the parish met the target of 30 water filters in that one day!
So he increased the goal to 50 filters – which the members of Ipswich met the following Sunday!
With almost all of Queensland in severe drought, the people of Ipswich understand the need for water. To focus on this, they adapted their Advent wreath to include a bowl of water, filled at the beginning of each service. Pastor Ben also centred the liturgy on the need for life-giving water.
Over the four weeks of Advent, Ipswich Lutheran Parish raised $10,382 – enough for more than 150 water filters for communities in Indonesia!
Pastor Ben said the parish’s effort was ‘amazing’.
‘Everyone was on the same page in wanting to help others and buy less’, he said. ‘It was about looking beyond our families and friends at Christmas, and loving also those in real need. There was this feeling that we were all really making a difference.’
You can bring love to life through ALWS Gifts of Grace all year round. Find out more about other gifts at their website or call 1300 763 407.
DID YOU KNOW…?
Amount Australians spent on Christmas in 2015
$46.7 billion* (around $5000 per household)
Children under five who die each year from diseases caused by dirty water
Cost to provide a water filter for a family of up to five children
Cost to protect 800,000 children with water filters
$11,040,000 (1/4000th of the amount Australians spend on Christmas)
*prediction: Australian Retail Association and Roy Morgan Research, November 2015. This includes around $10 billion spent on food – of which around 35 per cent is wasted!
This feature story comes from The Lutheran February 2016. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.