NOTE: The United Methodist Church is hitting the road in a gift-wrapped tour truck to kick off the True Meaning of Christmas tour on December 2, coming to 21 cities in 16 states over 23 days. We're partnering with 65 churches providing more than 500 volunteers to host events where people can join in a community service project, engage in a conversation about the true meaning of Christmas, and get a cup of cocoa along with an invite to attend a local United Methodist Church. The tour complements our Advent digital and television advertising featuring children talking about faith, with the message "Children know the true meaning of Christmas. What if we all did?"
You can follow what's happening on the road at unwrapChristmas.org.
What is Christmas all about?
By Ryan Dunn
The question has been asked in many ways for many years. We certainly understand that Christmas is about more than unwrapping presents, decorating trees, hanging lights or eating large meals. We hear the voices of children expressing that Christmas is something more. We sense there is something deeper to Christmas.
Christians believe that Christmas is about closeness. Christmas is a celebration of God coming close to humanity in the presence of Jesus. So we celebrate by coming close to friends, loved ones ... and even those who we tend to hold at a distance much of the year. At Christmastime, many people offer their time to serve close to others, to connect in special ways with friends and family, and to provide others with a feeling of belonging.
The United Methodist Church is hitting the road this December to provide a sense of closeness. Our True Meaning of Christmas Tour is coming to 21 cities across 16 states over the course of 23 days. At each stop, we're offering the chance for people to come close together and unwrap the true meaning of Christmas.
We're looking forward to sharing smiles and conversations with a lot of people. We hope to share a lot of cups of hot cocoa. And we plan on drawing people together by doing good for one another.
We'd love for you to be a part of it! As we come to a city near you, join us for some hot cocoa. We'll also be accepting donations for local groups aiming to help others have a good Christmas.
The full tour schedule is below. Visit our map for specific location details. Help us #UnwrapChristmas!
Tour dates and locations
Dec. 2: Waco, TX Accepting donations of socks, gloves, hats and scarves for senior citizens through Gifts for Grannies, and unwrapped children's Christmas gifts for Methodist Children's Home.
Dec. 3: Dallas, TX Accepting donations of socks and gloves for Dallas Bethlehem Center, and snacks and paper goods for Wesley-Rankin Community Center.
Dec. 4: Shreveport, LA Accepting donations of socks for local ministries.
Dec. 5: Baton Rouge, LA Accepting donations of canned meats, soups, peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables and spaghetti sauce for Southeast Ministries Association.
Dec. 6: Jackson, MS Accepting donations of socks and bottled water for Grace Place ministry.
Dec. 7: Little Rock, AR Accepting donations of packaged food items for 200,000 Reasons to Fight Childhood Hunger in Arkansas.
Dec. 8: Memphis, TN Accepting donations of canned goods or coats for local ministries.
Dec. 10: Champaign, IL Accepting donations of canned goods for local homeless ministries.
Dec. 11: Indianapolis, IN Accepting donations of canned goods or coats for local ministries.
Dec. 12: Columbus, OH Accepting donations of canned goods or coats for local ministries.
Dec. 13: Charleston, WV Accepting donations of packaged foods, canned goods and household items for Heart + Hand Outreach Ministries.
Dec. 14: Ebensburg/Johnstown, PA Accepting donations of children's shoes for United Methodist Human Services agency.
Dec. 15: Washington, DC Accepting donations of canned goods or coats for local ministries.
Dec. 16: Virginia Beach, VA Partnering with Surf & Santa 5 Miler.
Dec. 17: Greenville, NC Accepting donations of canned goods for North Carolina Food Bank.
Dec. 19: Charleston, SC Donations for Homeless to Hope TBD.
Dec. 20: Columbia, SC Donations for Transitions Homeless Center TBD.
Dec. 21: Knoxville, TN Accepting donations of canned foods for Beacon of Hope at Church Street United Methodist Church.
Dec. 22: Atlanta, GA Accepting monetary donations for Disaster Response Ministry.
Dec. 23: Huntsville, AL Accepting donations of canned goods or coats for local ministries.
Dec. 24: Nashville, TN Accepting donations of groceries for Round Up for Nolensville and Shayne Elementary, Oliver Middle and Norman Binkley Elementary schools.
Ryan Dunn is a United Methodist pastor serving as the Minister of Online Engagement for RethinkChurch.org (a part of United Methodist Communications). He writes and podcasts about new expressions of church and reaching new populations.