At Cartersville First Baptist Church, located at 241 Douthit Ferry Road, a Christmas Eve Community Service will begin Friday at 5 p.m. Described by Frank Bennett, the church's worship pastor, as "a rock band kind of driven service with choir and carols and candles," the service will feature a variety of elements, including a message from the pastor, inspirational videos and traditional carols, such as "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night."
"I think probably what I enjoy the most is the spirit of people at Christmas. It's a time of year where everybody enjoys seeing other people," said Doug Belisle, adult ministry pastor for Cartersville First Baptist. "So it's a very friendly atmosphere and it's a very open atmosphere to be able to come in and meet new people and see people that you haven't seen in a long time. Usually there's family from out of town that have come in, so for me it's a great time to be able to see people that you haven't seen in a long time and just get together and celebrate the reason for Christmas.
"I think it refocuses us to really think about the true meaning of Christmas more than just the religious aspect as far as we're celebrating the birth of God's son. I think it's definitely that but I think it helps us focus on the spiritual aspect rather than the [marketing] and materialistic focus that Christmas tends to be. [In the middle of] busyness and shopping and running around, [the service] kind of slows things down I think and helps us focus on what's really important."
While Cartersville First Baptist is expecting about 825 attendees Friday evening, White United Methodist Church is anticipating a smaller crowd for its annual candlelight service.
For Dr. Larry Hannah, pastor of White UMC, the Christmas Eve service is a time for spiritual renewal. Starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, the church's candlelight offering will feature scripture readings, communion and a message.
Hannah said services like this are important "to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior 2,000 years ago and to encourage our people to continue to follow and serve him next year."
Usually averaging 70 people at White UMC's Sunday services, Hannah anticipates about 50 people to attend Christmas Eve. Now situated at 3411 Highway 411 in White, the church currently is in its third location. White UMC originally formed in the mid-1890s near the present day Hickory Log Vocational School off Highway 411 in a sharecropping village that was maintained by the county.
During the homecoming service Sept. 19, the White UMC congregation dedicated the sanctuary, which was built in the late 1940s and recently remodeled. Due to the generosity of those involved, who donated their services, the work that was valued at $200,000 was completed for about $60,000.
For more information on area Christmas Eve services, see Page 6A.