About 25 Christian churches and churches of Christ were among the more than 700 serving as virtual experience host churches for “Night to Shine,” an event for people with special needs. On Friday at a “Shine-Thru” celebration hosted by The Crossing in Las Vegas, guests were greeted in-person by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, whose foundation sponsors “Night to Shine.”
This is the seventh year the Tim Tebow Foundation has sponsored Night to Shine. Typically, churches host prom-style gatherings where guests are treated like royalty at a formal party. This year, however, due to COVID-19, Night to Shine made a number of changes to keep guests and volunteers safe, and the actual “prom” event was virtual.
Still, at The Crossing—and at many other churches—the guests of honor were treated to a “Shine-Thru” in which they drove past people cheering and waving signs. Volunteers at The Crossing presented guests with corsages or boutonnieres, goody bags, and other party favors while bands and other performers entertained.
For about an hour Friday afternoon at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper, Ind., cars filled with guests passed by cheering volunteers waving signs and balloons as music played, the Dubois County Free Press reported. Guests also had a photo opportunity.
At Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Ind., more than 150 guests took part in a Shine-Thru that included people dressed as characters from the movie Frozen, which was fitting given Friday’s weather, the Daily Journal reported. Guests—including one couple who arrived in a white stretch limousine—were presented with a “prom in a box.”
“It’s become something we look forward to as a church to be able to minister and serve the special needs community,” MPCC serve coordinator Heidi Wright told the newspaper. “It’s a chance to help people understand that they are uniquely loved and special and celebrated and honored.”
Other host churches didn’t host a Shine-Thru, but still collected donations, worked with vendors, handled registrations, and fanned out in their areas handing out goody bags in advance of the Night to Shine virtual experience that began at 6 p.m. Friday.
Among the other Christian churches that participated in Night to Shine (with some of their comments gleaned from Facebook):
• The Refinery Christian Church, Goodyear, Ariz.—“So honored to take part in such an amazing night to share the love of Jesus and shine for Him in our community.”
• Real Life Church, Valencia, Calif.—“We hope all our friends participating in the Night to Shine . . . have an unforgettable prom night! We loved seeing you all at our Shine-Thru. RLC is blessed to be a part of this growing worldwide movement where thousands of people with special needs are celebrated—We Love You, God Loves You—now dance the night away.”
• First Christian Church, Champaign, Ill.—“Under normal circumstances, there would have been hundreds of volunteers passing through our doors to help create an unforgettable experience for over 100 people with special needs in our community. But nothing can keep the Tim Tebow Foundation or us from celebrating and blessing these individuals like we do every year! Last Friday, volunteers covered towns across central Illinois, delivering prom bags to our honored guests in anticipation of the Night to Shine Virtual Experience. We are so privileged to serve them.”
• Vibrant, A Christian Church, Mechanicsburg, Pa.—“Our Night to Shine Team is getting ready to head out to deliver swag bags to our VIP guests. . . . Please join us in praying for our kings and queens that will be blessed by this event and that it would be an encouragement to their soul.”
• The Village Christian Church, Minooka, Ill.—“Thank you to our Village volunteers for delivering the goody bags! So much fun!”
• Real Life Christian Church, Clermont, Fla.—“Year after year, we are blessed to host Night to Shine, where we get to honor those with special needs! Last night might have looked different than other years, but it was still a night we’ll never forget. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make it happen and to all the kings and queens who showed up to be celebrated!”