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Jam jar joy: fundraising during lockdown

Fikerte, wearing a pink striped top, pink headscarf and blue wrap, holds two chickens outside her home in Ethiopia.
The Bangor and Holyhead Circuit were inspired to fundraise for communities supported by All We Can's local partners in Ethiopia, like Fikerte's.

Royce Warner, from the Bangor and Holyhead Methodist Circuit, recently helped organise an innovative fundraising opportunity within the Circuit to support the work of All We Can. In this blog, he shares his experiences. 

Covid-19 is without a doubt one of the most life-changing events in living memory. Very little of our day-to-day lives has remained unaltered – and perhaps the greatest impact of all has been social.

The restrictions on gatherings which we have all come to know so well have impacted worship, and many other church activities. Fellowship has become a difficult concept to experience. In the Bangor and Holyhead Methodist Circuit in Northwest Wales, we heard remarks such as ‘I see your church has closed’ – to which we answered ‘no, only the buildings are closed; we are still the church, but doing things differently.’

But with five scattered churches, the question was how to hold the Circuit together in fellowship and to be active in witness. Their answer was with All We Can.

The Circuit chose to support communities which All We Can serves in Ethiopia. As we are a Circuit in rural Wales, we felt a particular resonance with these rural Ethiopian communities who are being forced to adapt to a rapidly changing climate as well as the crippling challenges of Covid-19.

What to do? And how to do it? Our ‘means’ was a Jam Jar appeal. Everyone was asked to enjoy the contents of their jam jar, then to one-third fill it with dry, stony soil and place a cut-out card to lower into the jar. On top of that, the challenge was to call on family and friends to add spare change to these jam jars.

An empty jam jar, pictured on a black table.

The Bangor and Holyhead Circuit used jam jars as a clever way of fundraising during lockdown.

One such person was an elderly lady – one of the first to contract coronavirus – slowly recovering and confined to solitary homelife, left her jam jar on the front doorstep. Some Church members who shopped for her, neighbours who checked upon her and an electrician all remarked, ‘Did you know there’s a jam jar on your doorstep with money in it?’ So, socially distanced on the doorstep, she told them the story of the communities we were fundraising for, invited them to contribute – and as the weeks passed, she watched the amount increase. Sure enough, like many members of the Circuit, she sowed a metaphorical seed and saw the harvest. Sunday after Sunday, many other stories like this were told. The whole Circuit was together. Well done to all of them!

The next question was how to recognise the achievement. With the help of All We Can, it was decided that after six months of our jam jar project, the Circuit would engage in an evening Celebration Service on Zoom and via telephone. In worshipping God, they told the story, had fun, and listened to the Word from the very welcome President of the Methodist Conference, joined by people from Churches and Circuits across the extent of England and joined by several other denominational friends across Northwest Wales. At an all-important moment, to a drum roll, a strong-voiced Circuit Steward dramatically announced the grand total of £2,315.76. The Circuit’s target of £1,650 had been exceeded, so we heard how the money raised will help transform lives.

It has been an unforgettable journey, with great participation. The Circuit is grateful to All We Can for the certificates of appreciation, which were posted that weekend to every participant – not to be put away in a drawer but displayed somewhere in our homes, to tickle people’s curiosity and tell the story again in the future.

If your church or Circuit would like to fundraise for All We Can, take a look at our fundraising pages for ideas and inspiration!

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