Christmas Alternatives Giving Celebrates 20 Years Christmas Alternatives will look a bit different this year. However, we will continue to support Christmas Alternatives with our gifts to honor our loved ones, while benefitting many deserving people throughout the world.
Twenty years ago, St. Mark created the “Mission Committee” with the vision of our Pastor Howard Gleason and endorsement of the Session. St. Mark Church was noted for founding and supporting many local missions within St. Louis and St. Louis County. It was Howard Gleason’s vision to expand the mission of the church beyond the borders of St. Louis. This vision continues to flourish.
The Mission Committee was created in 2001 with these goals:
1. To educate the congregation and raise the awareness of non-local mission needs;
2. Along with the pastors, to monitor and recommend activities for mission at St. Mark;
3. To research specific mission activities to sponsor;
4. To continue our level of funding and discover new mission needs.
The committee was allotted a budget through St. Mark, but it was always the committee’s emphasis to obtain additional funding outside of the budget. The committee members observed that all of us have too much “stuff.”
With that in mind the committee created a unique way of giving that provided two gifts: (a) honoring a loved one or friend and (b) concurrently benefitting deserving people with a tangible gift. After much research, the committee decided to raise funds by creating an alternative Christmas event which we termed: Christmas Alternatives. That first year, the following missions were selected:
National Missions - John Hyson School (New Mexico), Menaul School (New Mexico), Koinonia Partners, Presbyterian Children’s Services
International Missions - Marion Medical Mission, Rancho Ebenezer in Nicaragua, and Heifer Project.
Each Mission was contacted to determine the types of items that could be “purchased” by our members to give to loved ones at Christmas. A shopping list was generated, Minutes for Mission were presented to the congregation, and posters were displayed. Our first year, $1395 was donated by our members on gifts that would honor the recipients and benefit deserving people in multiple places around the world. The committee was thrilled! The second year, $10,024.83 was donated via Christmas Alternatives. When the congregation was informed of this news during a Minute for Mission, gasps of astonishment were heard throughout the sanctuary. The St. Mark congregation had embraced a new way of shopping for Christmas gifts, and a tradition began that has continued for 20 years.
During our first 19 years, St. Mark members and friends have contributed over $150,000 to Christmas Alternatives. You have provided health to communities through the drilling of wells for clean water, vaccinations and maternity care. You have given livestock and seeds so that people can provide food for themselves and their families. You have given gifts for children at Christmas and supported mission co-workers throughout the world. Thank you for supporting Christmas Alternatives during the past 19 years. Let’s make 2020 a truly spectacular 20th year celebration!
Sunday, December 13 1-3PM DRIVE THROUGH
We are offering a drive through drop off of your completed Christmas Alternatives shopping list and check. As a bonus, complementary Christmas Cards with artwork from our St. Mark children will be available for you to select from the warmth of the front seat of your vehicle.