Harvest Festival is one of the special times in the church calendar, with some of the highest attendances of the year.
Yet it’s a relatively recent addition to the annual cycle of worship, emerging from the Victorian era, when the local church and community would be drawn together to celebrate all that God had provided. Traditionally, and perhaps especially in rural communities, Harvest is the time when the church is richly decorated to celebrate the abundance of God’s creation.
But in recent years, Harvest Festival services have begun to resonate with more contemporary concerns.
Churches have begun to use Harvest themes to think about the stewardship of the earth, challenging everyone to think about environmental concerns. Alongside gifts of marrows and potatoes and bread, there are collections of tins and packets and household goods to share with foodbanks and homeless organisations.
Church and non-church schools alike, along with other community groups and national charities such as Traidcraft, often produce resources to link Harvest time with fundraising and awareness. These resources can be a great help to churches as they plan and prepare for their Harvest services.
It’s a great time to connect with families, especially those who have begun an amazing journey of faith at baptism. It’s a time to think about gratitude and thanksgiving, and a time to think about compassion and justice as well as recognising God’s generous love in creation.
There will soon be very simple and practical ideas on the Support Hub for making the most of Harvest Festival this autumn. Sign up for the Support Hub newsletter for details of when this will be available on the site – visit the home page and click on the ‘Sign up for our newsletter’ link on the bottom right hand side of the page.