Community program on Dec. 19 to relay message of hope
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 12, 2010 | 1246 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ellisa Lowe directs the Christmas on the Hill choir, which is comprised of more than 80 vocalists from nearly 15 area churches. 
DAYTON P. STRICKLAND/The Daily Tribune News
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In his second year as the program's organist, Byron Douglas is delighted to celebrate the birth of his savior, Jesus Christ, with other believers at Christmas on the Hill. On Dec. 19, the director of music at Open Door New Vision Ministry in Cartersville is joining fellow musicians from various churches and denominations to commemorate the holiday season.

"[We have] about an eight-piece band," Douglas said. "The thing I enjoy the most is actually just coming together, knowing we can put aside our different denominations, what we believe and just come together as a community to put on this concert.

"It's fun, most definitely. It's a fun experience because you're getting a chance to [work] with people that usually [you don't because] the guys that I play with, we don't play at the same church on Sunday morning. So just to come together and be creative with one another and come up with different ideas [is great]. I just enjoy doing it and I'm looking forward to doing it for however long they'll need my help."

To be held at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, the 6 p.m. program features the debut of "Right Here," a play written and directed by Margaretta Eppinger. Along with the musicians, the production is comprised of about 35 dancers, seven actors and more than 80 choir members from nearly 15 churches.

While the birth of Jesus was highlighted in past years' presentations, the new play's focus is nothing is impossible with the Lord's help.

"We've done the same thing for the last 10 or so years and we know why he was born," said Eppinger, a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist, 147 Jones St. in Cartersville. "He was born to save us, to intercede on our behalf. And we changed it up because in today's time, he needs to do a lot of interceding. So we just wanted to show that he can and he will if you trust him.

"And ... there's some young people out there, there's some struggling mothers out there. There's some people out there who might not even know that he's real and we're hoping that this will touch them."

For the choir's director Ellisa Lowe, who also is a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist, rehearsing the new material has been a fun endeavor.

"It is completely different this year," Lowe said. "At first I was like, 'OK, she must have given me the wrong piece.' However after I read the play and we started getting music for it, I was like, 'You know what, everybody knows the Christmas story but now it's time to actually relate to people today.' So I'm really excited about it because it's speaking [to] current situations and it's still relating to the Bible and going back to the birth of Christ.

"But hopefully it will give somebody a sense of hope about this holiday season. ... [In the play] people are lost and they're looking around because they think they're going to one place but it doesn't seem familiar and there's a lady who is there. The lady is actually a spirit and she guides them to where they need to be, to get the help that they need. And when they come back later, after they get their lives together, it's actually a vacant house. It looks like someone lived there but now it's for sale and the lady has been dead for some years."

Lowe believes the play delivers a message of renewed hope, which is especially needed at this time of year.

"Around the holidays things can be depressing. Everybody's not happy," Lowe said. "So I hope that it touches that one person who maybe thought about ending it all this season or didn't see how they would make it through and maybe [it] gives that person a sense of hope [as well as giving] other people who are OK with the season and excited about it a new perspective on it. ... ['Right Here' is] really about angels.

"I believe personally in my walk that there are angels that are covering us and they intervene on our behalf a lot of times. So I really think that's the concept of it but what these people who have gotten help by this lady do with that vacant house will be the big surprise. So I think it will definitely give you a sense of giving instead of always waiting to receive."

While there is no admission charge for Christmas on the Hill, the program's organizers encourage the public to bring a financial donation or a wrapped Christmas present -- with a label revealing its contents -- for a child or an adult to the offering. The gifts will accompany food -- also purchased with money donated during the program's rehearsals -- that will be delivered by Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist's women's ministry to families in need this month.

"You have not been blessed until you see all that these families get through the women's ministry and the help of the community through this program," Eppinger said. "Last year we helped 15 [families]. One family I think had five children but we were able to [assist them] because of what the community [and our participants had] done. ... It's just heartwarming [to be a part of this]. You feel like this is exactly what God wants you to do because of the feeling that you get inside that you've helped somebody."

For more information about Christmas on the Hill, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist can be reached at 770-386-7425.