Co-ordinated by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) Council for Social Witness Christmas Cracker is based around the Christmas story. Hillsborough’s minister, Rev. Dr. Allen Sleith, gave a short talk on the Nativity after guests had enjoyed participating various arts, craft, sporting activities and decorating cakes. Hand massages, refreshments, and carols were all part of the fun afternoon.
Around 1 in 50 people in Northern Ireland have a learning disability. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland provide residential respite care, day care and supported living for adults with a learning in a number of locations in Northern Ireland.
“I probably enjoyed it as much as our guests did,” Dr. Sleith said. “We had a great time together and we were actually surprised that over 20 people came, so there is obviously a need out there and we were more than happy to respond to that need.
“A lot of hard work went into planning and putting it on by our Hillsborough Outreach and Support Team, or HOST, so a big ‘thank you’ to them as it is one of the ways we can show the practical outworking of our faith and the congregation’s desire to be Christ in the community,” he said.
Carson McMullan explained that HOST had grown out of the support the church had given to a project in northern Malawi. “A number of us had gone to help build a pre-school facility there in 2008. When we came back we began to look at what more we could do to help in our own community.
Christmas Cracker, along with assisting people do their shopping, or taking people to doctor or hospital appointments, are just a few of the things that we can do when we see the need,” Mr. McMullan said.
“Christmas Cracker went exceptionally well and next year we will certainly think about running the event over two Saturdays, as it was a good opportunity to provide a fun afternoon for those who came and some respite time for their parents and carers.”