The following post was first published in October, 2015 for last year’s Fall Friendship Festival and has been updated for the May event. It is written by Herb Goodhoofd, coordinator of the Friendship Festival in Oakville Ontario.
The theme for May 14th will be “A Strong Young Tree,” based on the words of the Tree Song, bu Ken Medema.
TO REGISTER… Please send a list of names of everyone attending – friends, volunteers, parents, mentors – to Marlene Nirula at firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate if the person attending is a friend, mentor, volunteer, staff member or parent. For more information about the festival, contact Herb Goodhoofd at 905-469-9295. The cost to attend is $10, by cash or cheque made out to “Friendship Festival.” dc
“Hey Tom, where are we going tonight?”
“I’m going to Friendship club!”
The above conversation is repeated weekly in many homes in many countries. Friendship club, founded through Friendship Ministries International (www.friendship.org) means a lot to Tom and his friends. It’s an opportunity for Tom to spend time with his friends, develop and expand his social relationships and learn more about God’s love and what it means to live together as Christians.
Friendship meetings involve a time of singing and prayer, small group and individual teaching sessions and an opportunity to socialize and enjoy some refreshments. Bible lessons involve the use of Sunday school lessons or learning materials produced by Friendship Ministries.
Ten years ago, I was invited to lead a games evening at the Friendship club in Oakville, Ontario. Instead of the regular program, we played easy games and threw “rubber chickens” at each other☺. Since then I’ve enjoyed leading games at other Friendship meetings in various churches in southern Ontario; we’ve had wonderful evenings of smiles and laughter and lots of good fun.
The Friendship Festival evolved out of these game evenings. Friends and volunteers from various clubs come together for a day of fun and fellowship to enjoy music, games, special activities and lunch. The festival is open to everyone, and we’re pleased that friends and staff members of local Community Living homes join in, along with an enthusiastic group of volunteers who assist in running the activities and preparing a delicious lunch.
When I attend Friendship clubs and meet friends, mentors and volunteers at our festivals, there’s a sense of contagious joy and excitement that’s hard to put into words. As people arrive for a meeting, some friends are loud and talkative while others are quiet and reserved. But everyone radiates a message of belonging and acceptance.
This sense of belonging and acceptance doesn’t just happen. It’s due in part to the unconditional love and dedication of the mentors and volunteers who spend time with our friends. Friendship leaders not only teach about God’s love, mercy and grace, but more importantly, they bring God’s love into the lives of the friends they guide and mentor.
Allow me to conclude by inviting everyone to attend our next Friendship Festival,
When: Saturday, May 14 2016, 10am – 2pm
Where: Clearview CRC Church in Oakville, Ontario (map)
If you’re within driving distance of Oakville, please join us! Visit our website at www.weloveourfriends.com to learn more about the festival.