Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 20, 2012

Churches welcome all for holiday services

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — With the clock counting down to those cherished holiday hours, many are making those last minute rushes to share what they can of the jolly season.

Hoping to be a part of those Yuletide plans Monday, Dec. 24 are a few Pauls Valley churches and among them is First United Methodist Church’s “Home for Christmas” program.

Designed to bring people together no matter how long they’ve been away from a sanctuary, the program will kick off at 7 p.m. with the emphasis of offering those without a regular place of worship a chance to find one.

”It’s an invitation to people who don’t normally go to worship,” said member Jo Holley Silvers.  “To see us show our love and appreciation for the love of Christ.”

Held for the first time this year at 401 North Willow, the one-hour service will include Christmas carols, lighting of the advent candle and decorations that set the tone for welcoming people to a room at the inn, said Silvers.

Even the church’s pastor Rev. Mark Watson is excited to be a part of it since he has found more people tend to go to a church for the first time during the holidays versus any other time of the year.

”It’s a joyful service to celebrate,” said Silvers. ”There will be a message about the coming of Christ’s birth and why his birth is such a meaningful thing to mankind… In a way we are recreating a room for Christ.”

On the not so new front will be the return of the community’s most recognized holiday worship tradition through First Presbyterian and First Christian Church.

Held inside the familiar spot at 320 North Walnut, the popularity of the 60-year event has really intensified over the more recent few decades due to the musical performances provided by a combination of the respective choirs.

Thrilled to once again help lead the way for the 11 p.m. service is the Presbyterian choir director, Barbara Hagist, who often teams up with Disciple Church choir director Reba Jo Ward for a program that takes several weeks to prepare.

As a result it has produced a camaraderie of good feelings that spreads to the rest of the congregation and is only complimented in the end when candlelight helps usher in Christmas Day.

Not much has changed since it started, but Hagist notes how the familiarity is why so many people from all denominations make a point of attending.

Along with the songs by the choir will be holiday hymns as well as a reading of the prophesy from the Old Testament and the Christmas story by Presbyterian Minister Tom Buzbee.

”We just want people to feel love and acceptance when they hear them,” said Hagist. “The choirs are so fond of each other, I always feel it when we sing.”