by Rebecka Colldunberg
Before you start scratching your head and rushing frantically to Google, this is a rhetorical question, because, of course, the answer is: nobody! The clowns, the games, the excitement, the tricks, the noise, the lollies … what is there not to love?
Just one small thing actually, and that is that the circus only lasts a few hours—and then you go home. Not so at this year’s Alberton Lutheran Parish’s annual holiday program, though.
The Queensland parish’s Lutheran Holiday Program (LHP) is not new; in fact, it has been an eagerly-anticipated annual event for 25 years. ‘Initially, the program was for the community of Jacobs Well, which is near our congregations of St Peters and Bethlehem, and it was to minister to the local children’, LHP volunteer director Jenni Keith explained. ‘We originally did the program during sugarcane season, when the local farmers were busy with the harvest. It gave us a wonderful opportunity to spend time with their children.’
Parish pastor Rev Greg Vangsness continued, ‘For many years the Lutherans and the Apostolics had the only church plants in the district. Having a program for children was a stepping stone for the gospel to be presented to the parents who came along to support their children. The LHP became widely regarded as something that was done well and gave the community a consciousness of the value of the church within society.’
As the years passed, many of the sugarcane fields turned into housing estates, but the program did not dwindle. In fact, much like the cane toads of those fields, the LHP grew in strength and numbers. It wasn’t long before the program outgrew its small hired community hall and moved to the church grounds. And this year, a quarter of a century after 57 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed children enjoyed the first Alberton Parish camp, just over 200 eager campers swarmed the grounds of LORDS (Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School) for five days of circus fun with a strong biblical foundation.
‘I obtained a few different circus programs’, Jenni says, explaining the painstaking work of creating the program for 2014. ‘Then our very talented team put a set of themes together, wrote a matching drama program and worked out crafts, snacks and games based on the circus theme.’
Asking Jenni to pick a stand-out moment of the week was akin to asking a mother to pick her favourite child. But for Pastor Greg the decision was easy, and he seemed to speak for everyone: