On the very first (Bayside) Christmas the Tea Rooms in Bicentennial Park where we usually met were unavailable, as no park rangers were working. Instead, a picnic in the park was held and friends and neighbours were invited. We ate and laughed together, Elio shared the story of The Grinch who Stole Christmas and spoke about Jesus who came to bring peace and joy
And a tradition was born. Bayside’s Christmas Breakfast.
As Bayside grew different people would bring their skills and gifts. At Newington Community Centre Gail Wang took the food to the next level and Anna Seow decorated the hall. A team would come together on Christmas Eve putting up decorations laughing and working together. Over the years new people joined and the joy of working together and doing something for the community was life-giving.
Invitations would be letterboxed around the community and Baysiders would also bring their extended family to experience the generosity of community and the love of Jesus. For many years the guests for the day would be at least as many as the regular Baysiders.
Christmas Breakfast has continued at Concord West Public School under the leadership of Amanda Faase and the strong sense of community and the generosity of people bringing food or cooking and serving on the day or decorating beforehand remains.
For a number of years Christmas also meant a community gingerbread house night at Newington Community Centre. Leanne Telfer led this event. So much sugar, so much fun and so many people.
Alongside Christmas Breakfast was the annual Carols in Liberty Grove and later Carols at Wentworth Point.
These carols were originally held on Christmas Eve on the Village Green at Liberty Grove this was an evening of community. Bayside would provide a band, song-sheets and candles. The community of Liberty Grove would bring their picnic chairs and sing together.
Over the years a couple of very talented local musicians joined the Bayside band and one year the Australian Opera singer Andrew Jones sang O Holy night. Over time the Carols moved away from Christmas Eve and the Liberty Grove Executive Committee added more and more to the event. The time came to stop pouring energy into the event as it no longer had the same reach or connection. In all the years it was only cancelled once because of rain and on one night we finished early as raindrops and electric keyboards don’t go so well together.
It couldn’t have happened without the tireless effort of the sound guys like Bryce, Daniel D, Carl and Dan and Mel Wellings pulling together carol sheets and Steve Bartlett leading the band.
When Breathe moved to Wentworth Point from North Strathfield we partnered with another local Church, Riversedge, to put on a carols and festival event for Wentworth Point.
A new Christmas tradition began in 2018. Crosseyed, with generous donations from Baysiders, started making Christmas Hampers for the local schools to distribute to families facing difficult times.
So many ways to celebrate Christmas with generosity and a heart for serving the community together.