St. Nicholas Feast

A Neighborhood Party

Community Outreach—Worship and Service Together

St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio

The second year St. James celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas, they opened the festival of worship, fellowship and service up to the whole community. Careful planning and good publicity more than doubled attendance, attracting people from the community and other churches, including around thirty children. The event raised the church's profile in the community and significantly benefited a local food pantry.

Shoes with carrots
Shoes left on arrival
Bags of donated gifts
Gifts brought to the altar
Gathered with children
Telling Saint Nicholas' story
Reclaiming filled shoes
Finding treats!
Saint Nicholas with children
Pictures with Saint Nicholas
Publicity Poster
Photos:St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio
Used by permission

St. Nicholas provides a perfect way to reach beyond the congregation into the community. Everyone recognizes St. Nicholas and he offers a natural way to have fun and do good at the same time. This festival encourages giving rather than receiving and models compassion and caring for those in need, just like St. Nicholas.

Keys to Success

  • Conceive event as a gift to the neighborhood
    it will be great fun for you as well
  • Plan carefully
    only a great program makes a great impression
  • Make worship part of event (it is celebrating a feast day)
    invite other parishes, too
  • Wrap service into the fun
    then it is outreach, as well as worship and fun
  • Involve the whole parish in planning
    everyone is invested in its success

On arrival, children bring carrots and a shoe or boot to leave by the fireplace. After the liturgy, they find small gifts from Saint Nicholas.

Order of Service

  • Special emphasis on St. Nicholas as patron saint of sailors and children
  • Hymns, prayers selected to complement outreach project emphasis, i.e., naval hymns,
    prayer for men and women of armed forces, especially navy and coast guard, or children, those in need, etc.
  • Blessing outreach gifts (hats, scarves, food, knitting, etc)

Outreach Project

  • Collect hats, scarves, gloves, mittens for children who visit local food pantry
  • Collect candy and fruit for food pantry
  • Children help package candy with the gloves and hats so the receiving children share in celebration
  • Include a card telling who you are
  • Turkeys donated by business and parishioners for food pantry
    (Parishioners asked to buy an extra at Thanksgiving)

    Refrigerated truck donated, so turkeys could be dropped off Friday night for Saturday delivery)
    Assisted with distribution at food pantry



  • Begin in October, example from church dinner:
    Full page "ad" in program
    Candy in center of each table
    Announcement during dinner
  • Bulletin insert for three weeks
  • Color poster, using images from previous year, put in grocery stores, schools, libraries
  • Letter (with poster and bulletin insert) inviting other churches in deanery
  • Press releases
  • Large sign on church lawn


Include newer members

Sample poster (11x17-inches)
Sample bulletin/program insert
Sample press release

More photos

Adapted from:
"Second Annual St. Nick Feast Brings Worship and Service Together" by Sharyn Fees and "Raising your parish's profile: Visibility and Reputation" by R. Stephen Gracey, ChurchLife!, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio,Winter 2005. Used by permission. Photos and other information from St. James Episcopal Church, Boardman, Ohio.

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