Originally created 10/30/04

Treats, no tricks

Bethlehem Advent Christian Church will keep it simple for Halloween.

Members will play host to a community trunk-or-treat party at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the church parking lot, handing out treats from their vehicle trunks until the candy runs out, said the Rev. Ronald Wong, the interim pastor.

It is acceptable for guests to wear costumes, friendly or otherwise, he said.

For many Christians, Halloween is not that simple. Halloween is huge in the United States. Americans will spend $3 billion on the holiday this year, making it second only to Christmas in retail sales, according to Steve Russo, the author of Halloween: What's a Christian to Do?, published by Eugene, Ore.,-based Harvest House about two years ago.

"The church cannot afford to ignore it. It is not going to go away," he said.

There are many misconceptions about the day. Some people believe it is Satan's birthday. It is not, Mr. Russo said.

Actually, Halloween is derived from All Hallows Eve, the vigil for All Saints' Day, a day dedicated to unknown saints. Oct. 31 is also Reformation Day, which marks the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenberg Castle.

"I don't believe that Christians should celebrate what it has come to represent in our culture," Mr. Russo said. Instead, they should look for other ways to observe the holiday.

Brian Adkins founded his business, Scripture Candy, as a way to evangelize on Halloween. The Birmingham, Ala., man got the idea of wrapping candy in inspirational messages after listening to a Focus on the Family program about Halloween and the occult. He realized that Halloween was a great opportunity to evangelize by giving out Scripture-wrapped treats.

Scripture Candy markets to churches, Christian bookstores and other retail outlets across the nation and in 14 other countries, Thousands of pounds of its candies are used for church fund-raisers, treats in women's conference bags or donations to military chaplains.

Heavenly Resources, a North Augusta Christian bookstore, sells Scripture Candy all year, but at Halloween, owner Dianne Brady triples the order.

Customers want the treats to drop into trick-or-treat bags at home or at church.

People want to buy treats that have spiritual meaning, Mrs. Brady said.

A shopper went into Family Christian Bookstore in Augusta about two weeks ago and cleaned out all of the store's stock of Scripture Candy, said Wayne Tapley, the manager.

He has since replenished his stock. He's not sure how much candy will be given out on Sunday but he is ready, he said.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or virginia.norton@augustachronicle.com.


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