Halloween is upon us once again and, like the year before, remains to be a date that Christians approach differently – especially as it falls this year on a Sunday, the Day of Sabbath.
While some believers refuse to participate in the annual ritual due to its pagan roots and focus on darkness and evil, others not only take part but host special events as a way to reach out to members of their community and to open new opportunities to share the gospel.
Bethel Church in Modesto, Calif., for example, will be holding a "Trunk or Treat" event Sunday night, during which cars will be decorated and filled with treats and other goodies that youth can pick up as they go from car to car.
"We've always done it on the 31st," Leticia Garcia, Bethel's administrative assistant, told the Modesto Bee. "It's an outreach for the community. We've been doing this for about 10 years. We usually get between 1,000 to 2,000 kids."
Trinity Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss., also holds a "Trunk or Treat" event, and further adds a biblical lesson at each car.
"I think it's wholesome and it's safe," Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Ken Pierce, commented to the Clarion Ledger. "It's not going around to strange houses. It's an opportunity the culture presents us with to share the Gospel with those who may not otherwise come to the church."
Some, however, are opposed to having their kids participate in the observance due to the event's dark and sometimes horrific undertones.
Bishop Rosie O'Neal of the Koinonia Christian Center Church in Greenville, N.C., told her local media station that she has had a problem with Halloween since coming to know more about its associations with such things as the occult.
"I remember being a little kid and walking out and just wanting that bag of candy, but as I got older I began to understand the focus of evil and darkness … and I just felt like as a believer 'I don't want to do that,'" she remarked.
Still others say they are able to reconcile the celebration with their Christian beliefs in light of its ties with All Saints Day, which falls on the day after and is observed by some believers as a day to honor those who have died over the past year or all loved ones who have died – particularly saints and martyrs.
St. Alexis' Episcopal Church in Jackson will hold an "All Hallow's Eve" vigil Sunday night with prayer and scriptural lessons.
The church's pastor, the Rev. Chuck Culpepper, said the service will acknowledge and celebrate Halloween in its proper context while preparing congregants for All Saints Day on Monday.
Culpepper said he sees no harm in Halloween and further told the Clarion Ledger that the evening can even remind Christians "of God's victory over the powers of evil."
"I guess the basics of that is we believe God is in charge, and with Christ is won the victory, so there's no harm in it," he remarked.