N.C. churches spread Christmas message
Dianna Cagle and Patty Shaver, BR staff
December 24, 2008

N.C. churches spread Christmas message

N.C. churches spread Christmas message
Dianna Cagle and Patty Shaver, BR staff
December 24, 2008

Battling cold weather and numb appendages, members of Fairview Baptist Church in Statesville, caroled through neighborhoods, to shut-ins and at a local nursing home and hospice on Dec. 7.

Birgit Padgett, a member of Fairview, went with a group that took a “hayride without the hay” in a wagon through a local neighborhood. A couple of men went door-to-door to invite people to listen to the carolers and distribute material about the church and its upcoming events.

“Most people were so thankful,” Padgett said. “They had not seen carolers for years.”

One family brought hot chocolate and coffee out for the group.

Padgett, who sings with the choir and praise team at church, said she and her family went to the nursing home last year.

“That was a neat experience too, but completely different,” she said.

Padgett’s group extended their hour-long adventure by 30 minutes to visit about 15 houses. Many of the houses they passed had their lights turned off, hopefully indicating their lack of presence not lack of enthusiasm for carolers, Padgett said.

“We just stopped because it was so cold,” she said. “Our feet and hands were like ice blocks.”

Shannon Deaton, minister of music, prepared a handout with six or seven songs. Many ended with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

About 100 people went out in 10 different groups around the community.

Traditionally, the church had been visiting just the shut-ins and a local nursing home. Each year the ministry involved about 25 people.

“I believe the Lord laid it on our heart to do more with something that was very simple for us to do, did not cost much money and would be effective for the kingdom of God,” Deaton said.

Tony Craver brought his whole family to the caroling outreach. With his wife and three children, ages five to 10, Craver said they’ve been doing this since their youngest could crawl.

“I think people were pleasantly surprised,” Craver said of the caroling visit.

Devotion booklet

Most years, members and staff of Hominy Baptist Church in Candler contribute items for an advent devotion book for the church. Amy Rice, ministry assistant for Hominy, said people contribute poems and stories as well as devotions.

Rice said they added home worship ideas as well as a guide to what advent means.

“This is our biggest one,” she said of the booklet, which is more than 50 pages and has entries dated through Jan. 1.

The devotions are “intended to encourage your spiritual preparation,” she said.

The church also celebrates advent at the beginning of Sunday morning services.

Making Chrismons

For those who enjoy holiday crafts, Chrismon making may be a creative option.

A Chrismon is a Christ monogram — a symbol intended to represent aspects of the person, life or ministry of Jesus Christ through a single image.

“Many older Chrismons were made of Styrofoam, but they break and deteriorate easily,” said Robbie Erickson, who teaches a Chrismon making workshop at First Baptist Church in Reidsville. “Ours are made of pearls, gold beads and wire.” Others may be cross-stitched.

Chrismons cannot hang on a tree with secular ornaments, said Erickson.

Chrismon making is growing in popularity. Erickson’s classes have grown to the point that she now holds workshops in her basement so she doesn’t have to transport all her materials to other locations.

Chrismons vary in complexity and “can take 30 minutes to 12 hours to make,” Erickson said. Techniques can be learned right away in workshops like the ones Erickson teaches. Erickson said she likes the fellowship the workshop brings. “We share ideas and give each other advice, she said.

So far, Erickson has made close to 200 Chrismons. “It is endless as to what you can do,” said Erickson.

For more information about Chrismons, go to www.chrismon.org. Betts leads Chrismon making workshop at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro. Many of her designs are copyright protected. For more information, contact Betts at [email protected].

Hand-made gifts

Recently First Baptist Church in Mount Airy held its third annual gift workshop.

Members were encouraged to take part in making gifts for all of the church’s homebound members and others in nursing homes, retirement centers or “who might be in need of a little extra cheer,” said Barbara Blood, who heads up this ministry.

Blood noted that the church writes letters and visits throughout the year, but this workshop is done once a year.

This year the group of 18 made about 50 gifts over about three hours.

“We have been told that these gifts mean a lot,” Blood said. “These folks like to be remembered, and I think sometimes they feel left out.”

Tables were set up with six different gift projects.

Children could also make gifts for family members for a minimal cost. There was a fee to cover the supplies.

“We place the gifts in an easily accessible spot near the office,” Blood said. “Some are taken on youth visits or caroling nights. We just try to make sure that each gift gets delivered before Christmas.

“The workshop is a lot of fun and hopefully our children are learning to give in to others in the process.”