House tours are Friday and Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm the two weekends leading up to Halloween. Tickets are $8, but coupons are being given out to pumpkin patch customers. We recommend the House for kids aged ten years and older. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it’s in a church, it will be tame. We try to give people what they’re paying for. We’ve made children cry, teens wet their pants, and adults scream, so please don’t force your young children to go through when they don’t want to.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The Haunted House at SUMC was born as a youth group activity, but had been defunct for several years when, in 2006, it was resurrected by one of our church social groups as a fellowship activity. What fun it was! And every year, it just gets better. It is unique in its appeal. No other church activity brings such a diverse cross-section of our congregation, young and old, together for such pure fun. We’ve had participants ranging in age from 7 to 97.
Our volunteers have the opportunity to let their creative juices flow as they join in the decorating process during the days leading up to the event nights. Everybody has a great time working together with their church family on everything from hanging cobwebs and building props, to learning how to make someone look like a zombie. In a typical year, we will have twelve to fourteen different rooms, each with its own theme, actors, sound effects, and lighting. Since we are blessed with so many creative minds in our church, we have had tremendous success with this event. Each year, we have had steady growth in the number of victims… er, guests who have done the tour, topping out last year at over 600.
We get a very positive turnout of volunteers, and everyone has so much fun that we talk about it all year long. Excitement just builds through decorating week, when we transform our church basement into another dimension, and peaks during the four nights we are open to the public. Because of its unique nature, the haunted house has evolved to be one of our most popular activities, and many of our youth have grown up with this event as one of their cherished childhood memories. Even though we typically get excellent participation, the event is so flexible by it’s very nature that there is always room for new people to participate. There is always a spot for one more “BOO!”
Check out all the photos from our past houses in the Media Gallery.
House Rules & Disclaimers
- Please do not touch the ghouls or goblins in the house. They’re contagious.
- We ask that you do not use flashlights or cell phones while in the house. Flashlights are for sissies.
- We don’t want anyone injured… much. Refrain from excessive pushing and shoving.
- Stay with your guide. Somebody got lost last year… and was never found.
- Foul language and unChristian behavior will not be tolerated.
- Seriously, please follow our rules, or you will be escorted out of the house without a refund.
- Please note, there are strobe lights throughout the house.
- Latex is used within the house.
- Those who suffer from claustrophobia are advised not to go through the house.
- Like a good movie, the house is the most fun if you don’t know what’s going to happen. Please don’t spoil it for your friends or other people in your group.
- This is a scary house! Please take this into consideration if you are bringing children on the tour.
A Haunted House in a Church?
If Halloween is about witches, ghosts, devils, and jack-o-lanterns, why do Christians celebrate the day? Answer: Christians do not celebrate what has become the popular culture of Halloween. Christians do not celebrate witches and devils.
The movie producer, Mel Brooks, included Nazis in many of his movies. Asked why he, a Jew, did that, he said, “It’s how I get back at them; I make fun of them.” Brooks does not celebrate Nazis, but rather he puts them down by making them look foolish. That is what Christians do with the characters that come to this autumn day from the ancient religion of the Celtics in Ireland.
Who are these characters? Like people of other cultures, the Celtics had festivals that marked the seasons, especially summer, the season of light and winter, the season of dark. The festival of Samhain, on November 1, marked the end of summer and a season when the days were short and the dark long. They believed it was a time when hostile supernatural forces were active, a time when ghosts were free to wander among humans. The Celtic priests, called Druids, had rituals of sacrificing crops and animals to placate the gods, over 300 of them, ensuring the sun would return after winter to frighten away evil spirits. Bonfires, literally “bone fires”—the bones of the sacrificed animals—were lit to represent the sun. It sounds like these people were afraid of the dark, and they were.
When Christians became prominent in Europe, they did not abolish pagan customs. Rather, they tried to introduce ideas that reflected a more Christian worldview. They did adopt the same dates as the culture for their religious festivals. The dates of Christmas and Easter were also set to coincide with existing cultural festivals.
During the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints Day, May 13, to honor saints and martyrs. In 834, Pope Gregory III moved the day to November 1. Therefore, October 31 became All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Hallow means “to make holy,” and All Saints Day is now a day to remember all church members who have died.
Because of the festive nature of customs, many symbols of the pagan customs were blended with Christian celebrations. The jack-o-lantern was an ancient symbol of a damned soul. The Irish carved them out of turnips and beets. When the Irish came to America, the pumpkins replaced turnips and beets. Bats, owls, and other nocturnal animals were believed to be creatures that could communicate with the spirits of the dead. Some people of the Middle Ages believed cats were reincarnated beings with the ability to predict the future, and black cats were witches in disguise.
Now, if the souls of the dead loved ones could return, then so could anything else, nice or not so nice. Therefore, people would wear masks and strange costumes to disguise themselves to blend in with the ghosts and go unnoticed among them.
Question: Who really believes all this Middle Age stuff in our time? Maybe there are some who still do. (There are some people who still believe the earth is flat and the center of the universe.) But thinking Christians know that ancient pagan beliefs are empty and useless. Therefore, we can make fun of them and ridicule them. Our haunted house is not reality, but foolish fun.
Christians believe in the Spirit that is Holy, the spirit of love and grace revealed in Jesus the Christ. We remember the spirits of loved ones who lived exemplary lives according to the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) within the community of faith.
If you are looking for such a community, within which you can celebrate grace, love, and peace, our hearts, our minds, and our doors at Sewickley United Methodist Church are always open.
Happy Halloween – a Holy evening.