December 2, 2015

Rural county church gears up for Christmas program

By Daniel Arens

Quietly tucked away in rural Mercer County, a small congregation prepares for a big celebration as the Christmas season approaches. St. Paul Lutheran Church, the oldest congregation in the county, holds a program each first Sunday in December that involves members of all ages.
The Christmas program is developed by the church women’s group, although all members work together to make the event successful. Each November, the women bring together what they have collected for ideas and materials since the previous program, working throughout the year with an eye for the next Christmas.
“It is something different,” Marguerite Kilber said, noting that this program is “geared for adults.” St. Paul’s congregation is an older congregation, and the idea for an adult Christmas program arose after Sunday School at the church ended due to a shrinking number of kids in the church. Kilber said that the congregation misses the kids, and that this program is one way to keep that vibrancy going.
“It’s the church effort, and we try to make it enjoyable for everyone,” Kilber said. She added that the more volunteers and participants get involved in the program, the more fun it is.
This year’s program will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 6, following regular morning service and a church potluck. A coffee and goodie fellowship will follow the performance, which typically runs for about an hour.
Each program has certain features that are repeated yearly, even though the actual events making up the program can change noticeably. The Christmas Story, symbols of Christmas, an everyday life correlation, and a connection with the Easter Story are always included.
Often the program will highlight a different aspect from the Christmas Story as the theme. This year, St. Paul will focus on the wise men and their visit to Bethlehem. The program blends acting, speaking, and singing to bring a unique perspective on Christmas, including singers performing in German, humorous scenes, and hymn selections from the audience.
The event has occurred each year since 2008. The first Christmas program involved numerous readings followed by several hymns, which Kilber and Sharon Moon said has since changed to allow for greater variety throughout the program, and to keep the congregation from growing tired due to too much singing at one time.

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