St Stephen’s Flock

St Stephens FrockIt all began with an idea from ‘Messy Nativity’ by Jane Leadbetter.  ‘Why don’t we knit some sheep and place them around the parish like a Posada? ’someone suggested.  And from there it grew.  We invited the congregation who have talents of the knitting variety to follow the pattern and create a flock of sheep.  And what a response: 25 sheep were knitted each with their own individual personality and some even decorated with bows and bells.  Each one received a name label and they were distributed in shops, pubs, hairdressers, schools, the Innovation Centre and a small family of three took up residence in St. Stephen’s itself.
We went into the Primary schools of our parish and invited the children to take part in a sheep hunt throughout Advent to see how many they could find and to write down the name for the corresponding location.  At the crib service on Christmas Eve, we had a sheep themed service and all the children who returned a form were given a small chocolate prize and the chance to win one of the sheep in a prize draw.  The lucky winner chose ‘Nibbles’, much to the disappointment of some of the other children present who wanted that one too!
So what to do with all the sheep?  There had been such a lovely response throughout the parish and the event had touched the lives of a multigenerational group.  Some of the ‘hosts’ wanted to keep their sheep or buy them back.  We could keep them and use them again next Advent or we could turn the success around to the benefit of another community.  On Sunday 1 February we held a sheep auction at church after the morning service.  The proceeds of which were going to be used to buy sheep for women living in poverty in Ethiopia through the Christian Aid Gift website.  Again we advertised this event in the local schools and in the places where the sheep had spent their time.  We were delighted to see several families came back specially to bid for their favourite sheep.  There was fierce competition for some of the sheep and after an hour of bidding all sheep were sold.  Some members of the parish made a donation just for the sheer enjoyment of the event.  Not everyone went home with the sheep of their choice so this disappointment has also been resolved as one of the knitters has volunteered to make more sheep so that everyone can have, for a suitable donation, the sheep of their dreams.
So far we have raised enough to purchase a flock of 40 sheep and we all feel this has been a resounding success.

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