Camels come out to play at Munster church event
By Idelle Kerzner Post-Tribune correspondent November 25, 2013 12:52PM
Shari LeMonnier visits with one of the camels at Westminster Church's recentl Camels for a Cause program in Munster. | Post-Tribune photo
Updated: December 27, 2013 6:03AM
The recent spotting of a camel hobbling down Columbia Avenue in Munster might have caused passing motorists to take a second glance and wonder if they had just been transported back to a time of desert caravans and wandering spice merchants.
Not to worry, it was just Westminster Presbyterian Church, once again, engaging the community with an intriguing event.
According to Sally Van Bokkelen, missions and outreach coordinator, the program Camels for a Cause not only helps communities in poverty but provides children with an appreciation of early traditions through their interaction with baby animals mentioned in the Bible.
“The event brought the community together,” explained Bokkelen. “Children were able to decorate treasure boxes, do soap carvings, pet baby animals, and go back in time and experience life from the days of old.”
In conjunction with Heifer International, the church’s mission was to prepare attendees for the Christmas season while raising money for impoverished countries by purchasing and donating a farm animal that would sustain and provide a way of life to those without means of support.
Shari LeMonnier, director of church education, was responsible for bringing this program to Northwest Indiana two years ago. For her, having it before the Christmas season sends a message to youngsters.
“We are bombarded with commercialism and indulgences that take away from the true meaning of the season of giving,” she said. “We wanted to host an event based more on giving than receiving to set out children’s hearts into the season.”
Sporting a Biblical costume provided by the church, visitors posed while cradling a baby farm animal for a picture that could be used for family Christmas cards.
With over 100 people attending the event, church volunteer Darlene Smith enjoyed the “oohs” and “aahs” that filled the church as visitors cuddled with the animals and experienced the unconditional love provided from these innocent creatures
“It is the greatest gift to be blessed and to be God’s hands and feet of the world. It is all about love,” Smith said.
Pastor David Comstock explained how the event was a meaningful way to usher in the advent season and believes it is vital to serve those close to home as well as abroad.
“We have a lot of mission projects that benefit people,” he said. “Our church prepares meals for the homeless shelter in Hammond. Everybody is valuable to God regardless where their address is and the fact they live here or in another country is irelevent.”
For more information regarding church programs, call 838-3131.