For organizations and professions that are driven by the seasons, there is often the sense that we can’t actually appreciate the season we are in because we have already moved on to prepare for the next one. The Church is no exception. Planning for fall classes happens in the spring. Lenten Devotional submissions are written in the fall. Summer Vacation Bible Camp and Youth Mission Trips are all organized during the winter.
Advent Gift Market – even though it takes place for just a few weeks in November and December – is actually a year-round endeavor for our congregation.
It begins in the early spring every year as AGM Committee members work with artists in our congregation to design greeting cards that are a favorite tradition for the whole church. Sometimes that means looking through an artist’s past work to choose a piece, and occasionally an artist is commissioned to create artwork specifically for that year’s card. This year we are so glad to have commissioned a winter piece from Mary French that she created especially for the 2022 AGM, as well as a card version of a beautiful mixed media installation that Maria Schneider created for the Education Building to remind the children of their special place in our church community.
In late spring 14 different committees and councils begin discussing which partner organizations they will sponsor and highlight for the church in a given year. Some committees have longstanding traditions of the organizations they sponsor – for example, the Adult Education Committee’s commitment to WePAC. Alternatively, the Outreach Committee uses their AGM items to give a little extra support to partners doing remarkable work in a given year. For the Children and Family Ministries Council, their items focus on the mission partners the children have learned about as a part of their fall Sunday School curriculum.
The summer is spent finalizing items, price points and descriptions and collecting images that will help folks understand more about our partners and their work.
During September and October the AGM Catalog is designed, revised and printed. Hundreds of insert cards are created and cut and organized for easy checkout and pick up, and the AGM website is updated and finalized (www.BrynMawrAGM.com). The printer delivers the greeting cards, and AGM Committee members bundle them in sets to be displayed on the check-out tables each week.
This last week is when plans are finalized for opening day – this Sunday, November 20. Sponsoring committees are preparing their table displays for Congregational Hall, and volunteers are being recruited to staff the multiple check-out stations on the Ministries Center balcony.
Lastly, each week until Christmas AGM volunteers sell items before and after church and fill orders during the week for pick up outside the church offices. There has been more than one year when I have seen volunteers filling orders on Christmas Eve for those who left their shopping to the last minute!
It is fitting that AGM is a yearlong project and not just a seasonal one because the variety and scope of all the mission and ministry that your AGM gifts support represent who we are as a church every day of the year.
I invite you to join us this Sunday following worship to learn more about the work that our committees and their partners do all year round, to spend time reading this year’s catalog, and to use the tool of gifts through the Advent Gift Market to share the good news of who we are and what we do with friends and family this upcoming holiday season.