A congregation in East Ayrshire has been getting into the spirit of Christmas by welcoming the local community into the church and supporting people in difficult circumstances.
This year New Laigh Kirk created the Bethlehem Experience, which featured a cast of around 25 drawn from members of the congregation and the community choir, to portray the Gospel story.
During six packed performances, the Nativity was performed for hundreds of people in Kilmarnock town centre.
Visitors were also welcomed into the church itself where activities were set-up in different parts of the church and included people walking around in costume dressed as Bethlehem townsfolk.
Youth and Community worker Bethany McCaw explained that “lots and lots of people from the church made it happen”.
“We had an ‘Innkeeper’s Café’ outside and inside we had a ‘meet the King’ section, which was a quiet area for prayer and reflection”, she said.
“Visitors could pick out a promise from the manger and write on a ‘tree of thankfulness’.”
New Laigh Kirk is also the founding church for the charity East Ayshire Churches Homelessness Action (EACHa), which provides support for those experiencing difficulties such as homelessness, addiction or alcoholism.
Each Christmas the congregation works ecumenically with 12 other churches to give gifts to various children’s services which are passed on to those who might otherwise go without.
Janice Grant, who helps to run EACHa and works closely with Housing, Social Work, Women's Aid, Barnardos and Action for Children, said: “It is very moving to see the staff become emotional as they picture a particular child receiving the gift.
“A new toy or game makes all the difference to children whose parents can barely afford food never mind Christmas presents”, she said.
“A senior social worker told us of the relief of parents who are told to concentrate on food and gas/electricity as the children's gifts would be taken care of.”
Amongst other thoughtful work, EACHa will host a party for everyone involved in the befriending project on 19 December, where those attending will be given a parcel of food and a small gift.
This year 86 households in hostels or temporary accommodation will also be provided with food parcels for Christmas dinner.
Rev David Cameron, minister at New Laigh Kirk, said: “Christmas encourages living fairly and treating other people well, sharing what we have with those who need help; and being with people, especially those who feel so alone at this time of year.
“The most daring thing we can do for Christmas is to create stable communities in which the terrible diseases of poverty and loneliness can be cured.”
If you are interested in supporting the work of EACHa you can find out more here
New Laigh Kirk is a Church of Scotland Priority Area. Find out more about Priority Areas