Shining in the local community
Vicky Small of East Barnet Baptist Church reports on an initiative that encouraged local people to decorate a window in their home using the themes of light and love at the end of October
A year ago I read about an event that a church in Sheffield has been organising for the past few years, which involves inviting local people to decorate a window in their home using the themes of light and love, as part of a week long trail at the end of October. I felt God nudging me to set up something similar in Barnet in 2020, partly as an alternative to Hallowe’en.
After all that has been happening this year, it feels more important than ever to me to encourage people to take part in sharing a message of hope and God’s love in our neighbourhoods. I drew up a proposal of the vision that I had and presented it to my pastor (Rupert Lazar) at East Barnet Baptist Church. I have always been struck by the presence and powerful role that lighthouses play, so it seemed apt to name the initiative Barnet Lighthouses. With Rupert’s backing, I set work on developing the project over the course of the summer.
Barnet Lighthouses trail week ran from 25 October – 1 November. We publicised it at our online church services, on the church website, by word of mouth and on social media. People were encouraged to sign up their home, via the website, to become a lighthouse. The remit was to prepare a window display in your home based on the themes of light and love.
During the trail week a map was shared on the website, which pinpointed the location of each of the lighthouses. This was available as a guide to all who were interested in walking/driving round to view some of the windows. We also invited people to share photos on Facebook and Instagram using #barnetlighthouses.
I was aiming for 40 homes to take part in the trail, so was delighted when we ended up with 57 lighthouses, including EBBC and two other local churches. I was really impressed by the uniqueness of each of the windows. As the saying goes, “A picture [can be] worth a thousand words.” A variety of media were used to create the displays – such as fairy lights, light boxes, window paint, black card and coloured tissue paper, cellophane.
Our church building is ideally situated to be a lighthouse, as it is has plenty of large windows and is located on a corner of the main road through East Barnet. A few of us at church offered to prepare some artwork for the windows. I had decided early on that there needed to be a large image of a lighthouse on display there, so I set about designing that. A number of other lighthouses featured across the whole trail, as well as candles, stars, crosses, suns, hearts and short messages of encouragement. They are all available to view at https://ebarnetbaptist.org.uk/barnetlighthouses/
I set myself the challenge of visiting every single window during the trail week, either in the day time or when they were lit up at night. Cathy, a friend from my Home Group, and I are keen long-distance runners and enjoy coming up with unusual challenges, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity that this this trail provided. We set aside a couple of hours one morning to go out and visit as many windows as we could in one go - we managed 27. We wore head torches whilst we were running, to represent ourselves as lighthouses!
I’ve had lots of really positive feedback about the trail – both from those taking part and those who went out to view the displays. The majority of the lighthouses were situated within a one mile radius of the church in East Barnet, although we had two lone ones shining powerfully in Edgware and Colindale too.
It’s my prayer and desire that in October 2021 more individuals and churches will get involved and the trail will spread wider across Barnet.
We can be contacted via the church website or at firstname.lastname@example.org