This is the story of how goats took over my church’s Christmas this year.
I attend Crestview Park Free Methodist Church. It’s a small brick building near the west edge of Winnipeg. There’s a piano that reliably rejects regular tuning next to the raised stage, and a big wooden cross on the wall behind the pulpit (which bears its own smaller wooden cross). On a Sunday in regular times, 60-ish people who’ve made me part of their family would settle about the church in the exact same spots they’d sat in for years.
This is the church family that prayed for me when I got a job interview at MCC Canada. I hadn’t been going to Crestview for very long at the time and I desperately wanted the job. They celebrated with me when I was hired as a writer, and they prayed for me again a few months later when I was anxiously preparing for my first work trip to visit MCC projects in Chad in early 2019.
And not unlike MCC, Crestview’s family spreads far beyond our Winnipeg walls. Our church is mostly built of families with roots in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. Around Christmas, we usually hear about a good cause in Ghana through someone’s auntie, mom, or cousin and send money along with whoever’s going back for the holidays. But obviously, that isn’t an option this year.
So as the church was exploring other options for holiday giving, I was particularly excited when my pastor reached out to me, asking what kind of options MCC had set up for international relief around Christmas. I was all too happy to send him the link to the Christmas Giving page that my team had been working on for months already.
The gift of goats has been a popular option for MCC Christmas Giving for many years. Receiving goats can change the lives of the family who receives them. Goats are hardy and adaptable, their milk can be sold or drunk and they reproduce relatively quickly. They’re practical and valuable assets for people in need and perfectly reflect the kind of giving that’s important to both Crestview and MCC.
When it came to choosing what organizations to support, “It became a question of what places are actively ministering to people and their needs. Getting stuff people need to the people who really need it,” says Rev. Dustin Schellenberg, pastor of CPFMC.
And is it happens, my job for MCC entails writing stories about precisely that. I shared some of the ways MCC’s Christmas Giving targets real needs for people around the world. Needs for peace, for water, for education, for food.
But the goats don’t stop there. It was also important to everyone at Crestview that we support the people around us this Christmas. We wanted to find a way to share our family with those who might be having a particularly tough year.
So when we saw that (conveniently named) Winnipeg restaurant Little Goat—a pre-Covid favourite to many at Crestview and reliably tasty take-out option these days—was accepting donations toward making and delivering meals to frontline healthcare workers, it was a perfect fit. Is there anything more familial than sharing a meal with someone, even if it is remotely?
I have little doubt many churches are having to adapt their approach to Christmas donations this year. In a year that’s been so challenging, it was an act of pure joy for me to connect MCC and my church to Little Goat and little goats.