The Rev. Matt Broxterman speaks from the heart about the nature of the Community Christmas Gift: The fact of the matter is, most churches strive constantly to raise enough funds to serve all of their own members, never mind the broader community.
“I think it’s a blessing to be a blessing to other people,” said Broxterman, senior pastor of First Christian Church, which presents the annual gift. “It’s so easy, whether as individuals or as organizations, to focus on the things that we want and focus on the things that we need ... When we’re focused on just scrambling to meet our own needs, we miss the bigger picture. We miss opportunities to serve God.”
The resources, generosity and determination of church members allows for thousands of dollars in donations that are distributed to organizations serving the community. The donation, presented on the last Sunday before Christmas Day, is particularly special because it benefits two public service institutions: Riverbend Habitat for Humanity, and Atchison Elementary School.
Abbie Perdue, Riverband Habitat community resource development director, who received a $2,645.15 donation on behalf of her organization on Sunday at the church, said the gift is really heartwarming. The donation had originally been planned to be $2,500, so that the total community contribution this year would be $3,000, but a last-minute windfall has been directed to the benefit of Riverbent Habitat.
“It’s a blessing to know that First Christian Church stands behind the mission of Riverbend Habitat here in Atchison, and the work we do for this community,” she said. “Riverbend Habitat is a source of stable, affordable housing for a lot of people and we really want to continue the mission. This contribution really embodies the spirit of giving, especially for this time of year.”
Principal Nichole Honeywell of Atchison Elementary School accepted a $500 gift presented by youth pastor Brad Greene, in the accompaniment of several AES students who attend the church and supporters of the school and the church. The big check representing the donation will be displayed to other students following their return from winter break, she said.
“It will be an example of how much this church has done for us and our family,” she said. “I hope it will inspire them to go and do things like that.”
According to Broxterman, in the three years of raising funds for the Community Christmas Gift, an effort led by the church’s Outreach Council, a total of about $10,000 has been raised and distributed.
“The Community Christmas Gift is just as much if not more for our members as it is for the recipients,” Broxterman said. “It’s just an opportunity for us to look beyond the things that we typically get so busy with during the holiday season. Even if it’s just our own family stuff. It’s an opportunity for us to our part for those around us.”