There are times when the faithful experience church as a circus, but All Saints’ ‘holy experiment’ this summer was to bring the circus to Wolfeboro, NH—known as America’s Oldest Summer Resort. “We saw this as a creative way to raise funds for our mission outreach programs and an evangelism opportunity as we shared joy by bringing an exciting and enriching youth event to the area,” said Senior Warden Don Holm. More than $15,000 was raised through sponsors, advertisers, and ticket sales for the four performances August 12-13, 2018.
All Saints’ was pleased to be the first church to be a Circus Smirkus presenter and bring the Big Top Tour to the Lakes Region. 2,500 people experienced a fun, family entertainment opportunity and parishioners hosted the 30 Smirkus Troupers, ages 10 to 18 as part of their life-changing tour of New England this summer. All Saints’ and The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire provided more than 250 complimentary tickets to families in the area through L.I.F.E. Ministries Food Pantry, school social workers and local charities.
Circus Smirkus is a 501c3 nonprofit on-profit, award-winning, international youth circus based in Vermont. They operate a summer camp, offer social-emotional learning programs for children in school residencies, and are the only traveling tented youth circus in the United States. For 31 summers they have been providing show tours throughout the northeast and Wolfeboro, NH was the 15th of 17 venues on their 2018 Vaudeville themed Big Top Tour.
Rector Bill Petersen said that, “One of our goals of presenting Circus Smirkus was to share the good news of God’s unconditional love. Meeting our evangelism goal started in the parking lot as guests were welcomed by parishioners wearing ‘God Loves you. No Exceptions. The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.’ t-shirts.” The message continued as guests interacted with dozens more at the ticket booth, big top entrances and ushering them to their seats. Finally, programs included a dozen stories of sharing God’s love through ministries and community partnerships.