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Seniors at Huntsville church hold craft auction for Christmas, Easter offeringscomment (0)

December 16, 2004

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

Each year, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering offers Baptists around the world an opportunity to contribute to international missions. Pleasant Springs Baptist Church in Huntsville has found a creative way — literally — to add to their offering.

About 15 years ago, the members of Pleasant Springs held their first craft auction to boost their Annie Armstrong Easter Offering gift.

The auction was not intended to replace giving, said Pastor Larry Fincher, but instead offered several of the church members a way to make a contribution to the offering despite limited financial resources.

“The reason we started the auction is that we have an older congregation, with many folks on limited incomes who wanted to give but couldn’t spare much money,” Fincher said.

Fincher said they realized they had a lot of church members with creative talents, and they decided to capitalize on those talents.

After some fine-tuning, the church decided to hold the auction each year at Christmas and split the proceeds between the two missions offerings.

Since then, the auction has become a popular church event and a fun way to raise money for missions.

“Last year, we took in about $3,300 at the auction,” said Fincher.

“The folks who bid on these items see that the people have given of their time and talents and that encourages them to give their money to the missions cause.”

Every year, the craft auction attracts bids on a variety of hand-crafted items, including quilts, crocheted afghans, stained glass pieces, hand-painted items, wood carvings, needlepoint pieces, beaded ornaments and baked goods.

“Some people say they can’t make anything, but they can always bake something,” said Janice Nix, who donates some of her stained glass pieces to the auction each year.

Nix said the timing of the auction works out well because many people are looking for unique Christmas gifts when they bid on items.

Eighty-five-year-old Edna Burklin contributes a quilt to the auction each year.

This year’s quilt was an old-fashioned log cabin pattern in two colors, Burklin said. She spent about two weeks piecing the quilt top and another six weeks or so completing the quilt. Burklin is grateful to be able to make her contribution.

“When you get 85, there’s not always a whole lot you can do to make money,” Burklin said. “But there’s so much talent at our church, and the money goes to a good cause.”

Coming from a family of 10, Burklin grew up quilting out of necessity, using scraps from old clothes and remnant cloth. Although she usually buys her fabric now, the quilting process is still pretty much the same.

And though many people tell her that they will treat her quilts as heirlooms, she says she really makes them for one reason.

“Many people tell me the quilt will be a treasure for them, but I just make them to keep people warm,” Burklin said.

Fincher said that Burklin’s quilts, like all the other crafts donated to the auction, are truly offerings themselves.

“That quilt will bring $300­–$400, and that is her offering, the labor of her hands,” Fincher said. “She is able to give to missions by doing something she has been gifted with.”

“Folks are good about coming out and supporting the auction,” Fincher added. “They realize that a lot of time and talent went into each piece, and their bids reflect their appreciation for the person’s efforts.”

With both financial gifts and auction proceeds, Pleasant Springs expects to give more than $3,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year.

Fincher estimates that the church gives about 20 percent of each dollar to missions, which shows the importance of missions giving among church members.

And although members of all ages participate in the auction, it is an especially important event for the senior adults at Pleasant Springs, Fincher said. “It’s a way they can stay active and involved and in a way they are comfortable,” Fincher said.

The emphasis on missions also keeps Christmas in perspective for church members.

“All our Christmas efforts emphasize that Christmas is a Christian holiday. It’s not all about the secular view,” Fincher said. “This just gives folks an opportunity to be reminded what Christmas is all about.”

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