This past Wednesday evening, Dec. 7, Home Church Stettler had turned into a melting-pot of diverse communities as people from the international community of Stettler gathered together to be a part of the Christmas traditional fare with most experiencing Canadian Christmas with all the trimmings for the first time.
Catered by Brenda’s Country Catering, the place donned a festive spirit as Adèle Poratto, owner of Beaute Decor pulled out all stops on the décor and centerpieces, ensuring everyone felt welcomed and got into the Christmas mood.
“It was quite fun to put this together,” said Shawn Acheson, pastor of Home Church Stettler. “We’ve recognized that these past years have seen a large increase in temporary foreign workers and members from the international communities settling in our Stettler area.
“We thought how odd Christmas might seem to those who have only been exposed to a narrow, commercialized and incomplete version of this holiday,” Acheson added. “And then we thought, ‘what if no one told them,’ so we set out to have a traditional Christmas dinner, some carolling and bring the warmth of Christmas at Home.”
Acheson has lived in India for almost eight years and said he knew what it felt like to be an outsider to the community, especially during festivals.
“And not fully understand or be included in the lives of the locals,” Acheson explained. “They would often wrongly assume I was too busy or disinterested, when being included would have been my greatest joy.”
The Home Church congregation and guests that evening enjoyed a “full holiday expression of turkey, all the trimmings and plum pudding for dessert,” according to Acheson.
“We knew not everyone would like everything, but we still wanted to share our gastro- traditions,” Acheson said. “It was a remarkable affair, and we even managed to hand out small takeaway gifts for all those who attended.”
With Christmas less than two weeks away, Home Church plans to “go big” and participate in the “Night Before the Night Before” experience.
“This year we have photo-ops with Frozen’s Olaf and Princess Elsa, Christmas crafts of the kids, and a repeating performance of a very ‘Frozen Christmas,’ in addition to a telling of the Christmas message using popular songs and multimedia from the incredibly popular Frozen movie,” Acheson added.