Sharing light

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Every 4th of July, the town of Wisconsin Rapids has a big celebration with a parade and fireworks. People view the fireworks all along the riverbank, and Wisconsin Rapids Moravian Church (WRMC) has a brat fry for the community (the church is located right on the river where the festivities take place).

This year, however, because of the pandemic, the city cancelled the celebration. But WRMC pastor, Rev. Beth Rohn-Habhegger, said, “Just because we can’t have fireworks, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. We can still honor the day and do it in a safe way.”

Beth served at Lititz Moravian Church where they light candles in the town park for the 4th of July; she also knew that the Moravian settlers in Salem led the first 4th of July celebration in 1783. So she wanted to honor the 4th of July based on our Moravian history, as well as give people a bit of hope during this challenging time.

WRMC normally sets out luminaries at Christmastime, but were unable to do so in 2019 as they had construction going on in their building. This year’s July 4th felt like the perfect opportunity to continue that practice but during the summer. The church encouraged people in the community to put out luminaries as well.

On July 4, 2020, 100 luminaries were lit in front of the church and the parsonage. People walking along the river could see them, and while they may not be quite the same as a fireworks display, they were a wonderful way to remember the significance of July 4th and to shine light into the darkness that many may be feeling in 2020.

Stewardship is all we do with all we have all the time. It’s caring for one another…using our time, talent, and treasure to share a little light with the world. We give celebrate and give thanks for Wisconsin Rapids Moravian Church’s creativity and desire to make the 4th of July meaningful for their community.

(We thank the Rev. Beth Rohn-Habhegger for sharing this story with us.)

Is your community of faith in need of some creative ideas or even a little help with its fall financial appeal? Check out the new resources on the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America’s website. They include a planning template, suggested themes, important questions about making a pledge, and more. You can also view our recent StewardTips webinar which featured ingredients for a successful and sustainable stewardship ministry.

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Laura Watson

About the Author:

Laura joined the Foundation in April of 2012. A native of Winston-Salem and member of Home Moravian Church, she has worked in the Florida school system, at Salem College, and as Assistant Director of Laurel Ridge, the Southern Province’s camp and conference center. When she’s not busy with stewardship for the Foundation, Laura enjoys running and fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as well as traveling with her husband, Mark. She has served on the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees, the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, and the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.
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