Bless Friday puts service to God above consumerism

This post is excerpted from an article written by Mike Ferguson for Presbyterian’s Today. It appears online in it’s entirety here.

Chuck Fox, a Presbyterian living and working in Houston, first got the idea to start Bless Friday during a homily he heard from a Catholic priest the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2009.

The priest talked about the reason for Christmas and how the focus needed to be on serving the Lord, which seemed especially nonexistent on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving that has become the traditional frenzied launch of the Christmas gift-buying season.

“I was that Presbyterian sitting in the back row and I said, ‘You know — you’re right. We need to take the day after Thanksgiving and turn it into a service day,’ ” Fox said.

Fox, a member of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, started talking up his idea for a day of service replacing a day of shopping. His son Joe came up with the Bless Friday name, which Fox trademarked. The first Bless Friday event occurred in 2010 and has been held every year since.

Church volunteers pack bags

Bless Friday events can include everything from a workday at church to caring for people in need, as The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church near Houston has been doing for years. Photo courtesy of The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church

A few churches in the Houston area — and eventually one in Seattle — have over the past decade been offering their members and friends service opportunities rather than shopping excursions on Bless Friday. Since that first year, participating churches’ forays into the community have included staffing fix-it projects for low-income and health-challenged families, feeding people experiencing homelessness, rebuilding hurricane-damaged homes, organizing church cleanup days, producing no-sew fleece blankets for wounded service members and visiting nursing home residents.

“We have activities people can do in their own homes, inviting their neighbors over to do things like packing bags of rice and beans for the food pantry,” Fox said. He labels that kind of activity “soft evangelism.”

“When you describe the idea of Bless Friday, people start nodding their heads,” Fox said. “But we’re looking for more than that. Go organize something. It can be simple. Take 10 people from your Sunday school class and find some way to honor Christ with your service.”

To those considering offering Bless Friday in their churches, Fox has a piece of advice: Keep it simple.

This year, about 10 churches — Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic and Lutheran among them — are set to participate in the 10th Bless Friday on Nov. 29. So far, Bless Friday has been growing through word of mouth, Fox says.

Plan your own Bless Friday and learn more online today!

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