Held at the Paisley West End Community Centre managed by the Paisley Seventh-day Adventist Church, this recent Sunday marked the beginning of a regular series of events tailored for Ukrainian families. Driven by a dedicated group of individuals with the support of the Paisley SDA Church and the Council, this initiative aims to create a welcoming haven for displaced Ukrainians, fostering a sense of community, nurturing friendships, and attending to both their emotional and practical needs.
The inspiration for this monthly gathering emerged during a conversation among Ukrainian church members, who identified an opportunity for regular fellowship at the community hall. Prascovia Cravtova, one of the members, picked up on children discussing Halloween, which sparked the idea to arrange a day of fun for the children and adults alike and extend an invitation to their non-church friends. This concept resonated positively with the rest of the church community, generating enthusiasm and support for the idea.
During the planning stage, the organisers envisioned these events to be enjoyable and fun but also meaningful. With the theme of Autumn chosen for the first event, the activities were carefully planned to engage both children and adults. A Messy Church setup, organised by Olga Antoniuk, with arts and crafts on the theme of autumn, board games, and even a sandpit for the little ones, filled with various grains, provided a diverse range of activities. The conversation would delve into the realm of fruits and vegetables, exploring the changes in nature during autumn, the practices of harvesting by farmers to prepare for winter, and the metaphorical understanding of the fruits of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of believers. Children were invited to come dressed in fruit or vegetable costumes if they wanted to.
As the day arrived, the atmosphere was a mix of excitement and nerves. One of the organisers Prascovia Cravtova commented “We didn’t know how well it would turn out, we prayed to God that everything would work out for His glory.” Seven activity tables with various activities, from face painting to arts and crafts, kept the children engaged. The evening also included spiritual elements, with conversations about autumn, riddles, and songs centred around the theme of fruits and vegetables.
Each person took on specific responsibilities, from organising craft tables to overseeing games and ensuring the sandpit remained tidy. Pastor Ratko Risteski took charge of pizza preparation, turning the culinary activity into a lovely bonding experience.
The outreach event concluded with small gifts for all the children, followed by a delicious dinner featuring the pizzas and salads prepared earlier, followed by a game for the adults and the older children.
The event was attended by three families from the wider community with an estimated total of 12-13 families including 20 children. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the three families from outside the church expressed their delight and eagerness to return for future gatherings.
Pastor Ratko commended the remarkable team effort, expressing his inspiration from witnessing the passion reflected in the eyes of everyone involved. The meticulous planning and the enthusiastic participation of everyone involved ensured the success of this event.
Looking ahead, the organisers are open to new ideas and are already planning the next outreach event. The upcoming meeting will focus on the birth of Jesus.
These events will be taking place every first Sunday of each month.