Gearing up for Christmas in the Parish of High Ongar…

Or should I say gearing up for Advent?

by Katherine Garner

This year we have decided to do something a bit special for the period of Advent! Something we hope will become an annual tradition. Something we hope will bring community and church together. Something we believe will be beautiful, practical and above all highly appropriate – after all if the church can’t do Christmas, who can?

We decided it’d be fabulous to light up the trees along the churchyard, and to have a special Tree Lighting Ceremony at a Christmas event in church. Having visited Winchester for a Christmas market in 2016, and seen their lovely avenue of trees lit up, we knew how beautiful it could look.

These trees were at Winchester Cathedral for their Christmas market…

But we knew it would be an expensive undertaking, and more than that we wanted to work with our village community, and so we invited local businesses – both in High Ongar, Chipping Ongar, and surrounds to get involved. And what a joy that has been.

Our first tree was sponsored by High Ongar Parish Council – who were very happy to support a village event. And then several local businesses sponsored trees – either in full or in part. So big thanks go out to Patch Park Farm, The Coffee Post, and John Sear for sponsoring trees. Also to Ongar Bridge , Mustard Seed, Bloomin Jacks, Buckhurst Hill School & Woodford School of Dancing, and On Air Suspension for their donations.

As well as that we have 2 trees that will be lit up in memory of loved ones, and we are especially delighted that one will be lit in memory of Joe and Margery Lee who lived in High Ongar for many years. St. Mary’s was a huge part of Joe and Margery’s lives, and they worshipped there for more than 40 years. For part of this time Joe was a lay reader and Margery a churchwarden. They were a very generous couple and would have loved the idea of shining a little light on their church.

On top of that the village has rallied round and made substantial contributions – to date some £630, and we are especially grateful to Kev Speck and Bev Howlett for stepping up and getting involved. Kev posted flyers through the doors of villagers and Bev was a central collection point for donations.

And church members have been similarly generous, so that in total between businesses, the parish council, villagers and the church we have raised some £2500 to get the trees lit up. Central Electrics have kindly agreed to supply lights at cost, and likewise local electrician Steve, of Howlett Electrical Solutions Ltd, is supplying extras and getting the work certificated for us. It really feels like a team effort with everyone working together.

We’ll be posting the final details and program nearer the time but I can tell you the following! Doors will open at 11.00a.m on Saturday 30th November. Inside the church there will be a few stall holders selling gifts; High Ongar Primary School and the Brownies and Guides are represented; there will be two 30 minute demonstrations of Christmas floral table decorations by Sacha at Starry Eyed Weddings; there’ll be a Christmas canape demonstration by Katherine at Mustard Seed – with samples for the audience; HOPS school children and Harmony Club will be singing carols; the bells will be rung out and the trees will be lit; and there’ll be a special Advent Treasure Hunt, with clues to solve and stickers to collect and a prize for those who complete them all. There’ll be more details in due course but please do get excited! We certainly are.

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And what’s more this is the first year of what we hope will become a regular event every year. The lights should last for several years to come and we hope the good spirit created will last forever.

God Bless!

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