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“It really brings the village together.” S.S. Morris Church to host annual Holiday Bazaar this weekend

S.S. Morris Community African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church on Madison’s east side will host its annual Christmas Bazaar this weekend. (Photo: S.S. Morris AME)   

The annual Holiday Bazaar at S.S. Morris Community African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church on Madison’s East Side this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, will bring the parish and community together for holiday cheer, camaraderie, great homemade foods and to support local Black businesses.

“The Holiday Bazaar is an event we’ve have had for a number of years and it’s one of our biggest fundraisers for the church,” says Terri Strong, a longtime member of S.S. Morris Church and an organizer of the event. “It’s not only a fundraiser but it’s also an opportunity for local vendors to sell their wares and sell their goods. So it’s also an entrepreneurial opportunity for the village.”

They will also sell delicious food at the Holiday Bazaar cafe.

“There will be two different kinds of chili — vegetarian and meat chili. There’ll be nachos with all of the fixings. There will be chicken noodle soup. There’ll be a Mississippi hot-roll sandwich,” Strong says. “We make a lot of food and a lot of people in the community know that the women at SS Morris can cook and we can bake, so a lot of people come for for those things.”

The event is well over 20 years old, and back in the day was originally known as the Bethlehem Community Marketplace Bazaar, a unique opportunity to be immersed in the same sights, sounds, and smells that Mary and Joseph encountered over 2,000 years ago. “Those were fun days,” Strong remembers.  The bazaar was always a unique chance for people to walk around and talk with the townspeople while perusing arts, crafts, baked goods, and food. Over the years, the Bethlehem Community Marketplace Bazaar became the annual Holiday Bazaar.

“The Holiday Bazaar has been a staple of S.S. Morris for a long time and it’s not only a chance to fundraise but it’s also a chance to have fun and socialize. It really brings the village together.

“There was one year where the cafe area was just jam-packed with people that sat there for about four hours just talking. Some of the village elders, especially, just sat there for four hours talking about history and sharing stories and sharing information and just connecting. It was it was a beautiful thing,” Strong says. “The annual Holiday Bazaar is one of those events that brings the community together.”

The Holiday Bazaar, a two-day affair, one of the favorite events at the predominantly Black church on Milwaukee Street, starts on Saturday at 9 a.m. and runs until 4:30 p.m. On Sunday, after mass, it will run from 1-4:30 p.m. Many of the parishioners and community members really missed the Holiday Bazaar when it was canceled for a couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We really missed it during those years. It’s such a fun event and for a good cause and it’s an exciting time because everybody is in the Christmas spirit,” Strong says. “Everybody is in that holiday spirit and that giving spirit so this is a good time to come and to support our businesses and entrepreneurs and to maybe even pick out some Christmas presents.”