The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury hosts a slew of holiday events this year, including special Christmas services, a crafts faire and silent auction, and Christmas Eve caroling with hot apple cider.
According to Jane Bertkau, chair of the church council, the summer is usually the time when the church holds its fruit festivals (Peach, Strawberry, Blueberry), which account for the majority of its fundraising dollars. The pandemic eliminated the possibility of holding the popular festivals, so the church had to come up with other ways to raise money.
“We loved doing those festivals. It was wonderful community outreach, and we were really able to support the mission of our church,” Bertkau said.
When COVID came, the church couldn’t serve food, ice cream, drinks, and other things that drew Islanders to the various events. Ultimately, the church decided to create the Christmas Faire because it doesn’t involve food.
But Bertkau and others wanted to include the wider community in a fun event, so they came up with the silent auction for the first time.
According to Bertkau, the online silent auction opens Dec. 1 at 8 am, and closes on Dec. 11 at 5 pm. New items will be added daily, and some items will be on display at the church during the Christmas Faire on Dec. 11.
Some potential offerings might include artwork, gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, a guided nature walk, a birding outing, tinctures, tutoring, hobby-sharing, a homestay or travel experience, tickets to an event, jewelry, woodworking, meal prep, fitness package or membership, music lessons, private holiday serenade, a collection of books, a basket of goodies, a scavenger hunt, and more.
In addition, the church will offer some special Christmas cards from Tisbury Printers, with vintage snowstorm photos of West Tisbury and the church.
Other offerings include a fishing trip, a day sail on the waters of Martha’s Vineyard, a stay in New Hampshire (for skiing in the winter or relaxing in the summer).
The theme for this year’s craft faire at the church is “An Island Christmas — A Celebration of Land and Sea.” There will be beautiful wreaths and centerpieces for sale, with decorations from both land and sea.
People can order their wreaths and centerpieces in advance by heading to the Congregational Church website at wtcongregationalchurch.org/greens-advance-order-form. Pick up your goodies before the faire on Dec. 10, from 9 am to 12 pm, or by appointment.
Indicate the desired quantity in the box below the item, and choose a ribbon when you pick up your order.
The auction is organized via the Bidding for Good auction platform, which allows folks to browse other organizations’ auctions and get inspiration for their own item listings.
All money from the fundraising efforts will support the missions and ministries of the church. Anyone who wants to donate can head to biddingforgood.com/fccowt and use the “donate items” form found under the “auction links” tab on the right side of the page.
According to Bertkau, the church has been working closely with the town of West Tisbury and Island boards of health to ensure that all church events are in line with COVID safety protocols. Mask-wearing, social distancing, regular disinfecting, one-way traffic patterns, limited numbers, proper airflow, and high-quality HVAC air filters will be in place for the workshops and for the sale day.
“We are very excited to offer something that will help the missions of our church but also serve as outreach to the community and the businesses,” Bertkau said.
Check out the complete list of First Congregational Church of West Tisbury events:
Advent and Christmas Sunday Morning Services
Sunday, Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26, 10 am. In-person, via streaming or Zoom. Visit fccowt.org for details.
Advent Evensong Services
Three contemplative services, Wednesdays at 5:30 pm, Dec. 8, 15, 22, with themes: Longing and Preparing, Waiting and Hoping, Healing and Transforming.
Christmas Faire and Silent Auction
Silent Auction: Opens Dec. 1 at 8 am, and closes on Dec. 11 at 5 pm (new items added daily; some on display at the Faire). biddingforgood.com/fccowt.
Christmas Faire: Saturday, Dec. 11, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Sunday, Dec. 12, 3 pm, featuring “Die Winterreise” by Franz Schubert. David Behnke, baritone; David Rhoderick, piano. Suggested donation, $20; students free.
Christmas Prayer Tree
Dec. 4 – 31, on the lawn. All invited to decorate with provided ribbons and ornaments, and your own prayer request.
Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols
Friday, Dec. 24, 5 pm.
Christmas Eve Caroling in the Churchyard
Friday, Dec. 24, 6 pm (weather permitting).