This article and my interview with Laurie Fanelli, Freelance Reporter, was first published in the Homer Horizon.
Church and community often work hand-in-hand to bring people together.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Christian Life Church in Homer Glen opened its doors to neighbors looking to get a jumpstart on their Christmas shopping with its inaugural Vendor Fair.
After participating in several vendor fairs in the area, congregation member and Homer Glen resident Crystal Turney came up with the idea to host the fall fair as a fundraiser for the church’s community outreach program.
“We’re hoping to get the word out in the community that the church is here, and everyone is welcome,” she said.
Over a dozen booths offered shoppers a variety of goods, including spiritual books, essential oils, jewelry, apparel and more. Author and speaker Tena DeGraaf was in attendance selling her spiritual book series, “Hidden in My Heart,” “A Heart of Praise” and “A Heart of Wisdom.” Each edition features scripture verses, along with a calendar and journaling segment to help readers reflect on the message of the Bible.
DeGraaf explained how she personally uses the books as tools to dive deeper into scripture.
“I rewrite each verse in a journal entry because that helps me memorize the verse, think about it, meditate on it and let it resonate with myself,” she said. “Some people also write prayers in the journaling space.”
Along with the vendor sale itself, a bake sale and refreshment area served as a fundraiser for the community outreach program, which places a focus on many of the youngest residents of Homer Glen.
“We go out into the community and pick up kids for Sunday school in the mornings, so we’ll use the proceeds for that, and we have a lot of events for the kids in the area, as well,” Turney said.
Following the inaugural Vendor Fair, Christian Life Church will be gearing up for one of its biggest community events of the year. It will host a live nativity on Dec. 8 from 7-9 p.m. and Dec. 9 from 6-8 p.m., and admission is free.
“This is our eighth year doing a live nativity,” the Rev. Perry Walker explained. “This year, we’ve expanded what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. It’s a drive-thru with a lighted path, so each vehicle can drive through the parking lot and see live animals and people in costume. It’s a beautiful time.”
Besides church services, Christian Life Church also fosters academic education with its Christian Life Academy, which is sponsoring the live nativity event.
Walker’s wife, Loretta, is passionate about providing students — kindergarten through 12th grade — with a well-rounded, high-quality classroom experience through the Academy.
“Children need a safe place where they can be to grow and thrive in the word of God,” she said. “A biblical-based education is what we emphasize, as well as academic excellence, of course. We’re excited to be in our fifth year now.”
“This church is for everyone,” Perry said. “Our services are for people from every race, every social economic background and it’s a tremendous environment for people to experience a better life. It’s a great place.”
Church services are held every Sunday morning at 10 a.m., and a teaching service is also offered on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at Christian Life Church at 5609 W 159th St., Homer Glen.
A spring Vendor Fair is also already being planned for May 19.