Holiday events fill calendars at Coweta churches

By W. WINSTON SKINNER
winston@newnan.com
In and around Coweta County, churches are decked with wreaths and decorated trees, and Christmas music is filling the air.
Area churches are planning a wide range of activities for Advent and Christmas. There is not a synagogue in Coweta County, but people of the Jewish faith can find services and activities related to Chanukah in adjoining counties.
For Christians, Christmas is the celebration of Jesus, the Savior. Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, recalls the ancient victory of a militarily weak but spiritually strong Jewish people over an enemy that had sought to prohibit their religious freedoms.
The Cathedral of Christ the King near Sharpsburg will hold its annual St. Nicholas Bishop service on Sunday. Thomas Metzger, 15, of Peachtree City will be the “boy bishop” for this year’s observance of the ancient tradition.
Metzger will serve during both the 8:30 and the 10 a.m. services. Bishop David Epps, who serves as the pastor of Christ the King and as the bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church’s Diocese of the Mid-South, appointed Metzger.
Epps will vacate the bishop’s chair to the “boy bishop.” Metzger will preach the sermon in both services and will be attired in the garments of the bishop.
“Selecting Nicholas Bishops, or boy bishops, was once a popular tradition throughout Europe, from the tip of Italy to the Hebrides in Scotland and from Ireland to Hungary,” Epps said. “The ceremony is a lesson in humility and recognition of the wisdom of youthful innocence.”
The tradition also symbolically represents a teaching of Christ: “[U]nless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4, NKJV)

Epps said the custom “fits perfectly with the Advent themes of turning the tables and oversetting expectations.”

The appointment of boy bishops honors the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra, patron of children, who is traditionally remembered as having a special, personal concern for the safety and well-being of children.

Centuries ago, from St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, until Holy Innocents, Dec. 28, topsy-turvey was the order of the day. The boy bishop took the bishop’s throne and wore his regalia, presiding at all services in the cathedral. The altar servers sat in the places of dignity usually occupied by the clergy and the reverend canons of the cathedral filled the roles of altar servers.

“The Boy Bishop was empowered to declare extra holidays, and to decree the distribution of sweets to the children of the diocese, paid for from the diocesan treasury,” Epps noted.

Though Queen Elizabeth I ended the custom in England, it survived on the Continent until 1799. In modern times, churches have begun to revive the custom, especially in English cathedrals and parishes.

The first boy bishop at Christ the King was John Paul Landon – now a soldier in the Army – in 2008. Thomas Metzger was the second, serving in 2009 while Kyle Benson, now a student at Covenant College, was appointed in 2010.

“There was no boy bishop in 2011,” Epps said. This will be Metzger’s second appointment as the boy bishop.

Metzger is a home school student and the oldest of three sons of Richard and Sallie Metzger – the younger sons being George and Charles. His grandmother, Virginia Fretwell, also resides with the family.

Church groups and ministries have also been finding ways to reach out during the holidays – and raising money for their outreach projects. A Brighter Day, an outreach group in Turin, sponsored a silent Christmas tree auction, in conjunction with the Senoia Christmas parade on Dec. 1.

Among the trees prepared and donated by area businesses was a Zombie Tree with “Walking Dead” items as ornaments and the autograph of one of the locally filmed series’s actors on the tree skirt.

The trees were displayed at the Edward Jones office in Senoia, and the proceeds will help A Brighter Day make Christmas brighter for some local children.

“In all nine trees were donated and auctioned off,” said Betty Bryant, director of A Brighter Day. “It was the best year for the trees.”

Events on church calendars include:

Today, Dec. 8

• Breakfast with Santa, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, 7:30-11 a.m. Pictures taken with Santa/breakfast/crafts. Tickets – $5 adults, $2 ages 3-12, and free ages 2 and younger.

• Nativity Display, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission – $5 adults/$4 seniors and students.

• Nativity Festival, LaGrange, noon-5 p.m. Nativity Festival, LaGrange, 2-7 p.m. Nativity scenes/angels/religious artwork from around the world at three LaGrange churches – Advent Lutheran, First United Methodist, St. Peter’s Catholic Church – and Vernon Woods Retirement Community. Free.

• “Meet Me at the Manger,” play, Warehouse, First Baptist Church, Newnan, 1 p.m. Free. Presented by Joyful Praise Homeschool Choir.

• “A Christmas Fortune,” Zion Hill Baptist Church, Pinson Street, 3 p.m. Admission: toy appropriate for ages 5-16. Sponsor: New Generation Praise Dancers.

• Resurrection Lutheran Chancel Choir, Ashley Park, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

• A Night in Bethlehem, FaithCreek United Methodist Church, 6-8 p.m. Visitors will experience sights, sounds and excitement of the very first Christmas. Bakery/toy shop/jewelry shop/candy shop/marketplace/Hebrew scribe/inn/stable/coffee/hot chocolate.

• Drive-Thru Nativity, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, 6-9 p.m. Free. Ten live scenes. More than 100 volunteers involved.

• Christmas play, Calvary Baptist Church, Raymond, 6 p.m. Bryan Calhoun, pastor of the church said the play “is based on the Prodigal Son.”

• Women on Mission Christmas Party, First Baptist Church, Moreland, 6 p.m. Speakers – Andy/Cindy Kennedy, missionaries to Brazil.

• Christmas Dinner, Old Veal School, Roopville, 6 p.m. The annual celebration will be followed by singing at 7 p.m. The Emmaus Road Quartet and In His Steps will be singing.

• “The Greatest Gift,” musical, Bible Baptist Church, 7:15 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 9

• Christmas Music of Robert Shaw and Alice Parker, First United Methodist Church, Newnan, 8:30 a.m. Presented by chancel choir.

• Advent Forum, first session, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 9:15 a.m.

• Christmas Music of Robert Shaw and Alice Parker, First United Methodist Church, Newnan, 10:55 a.m.

• Nativity Festival, LaGrange, noon-5 p.m.

• Nativity Display, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, 2-4 p.m. Admission – $5 adults/$4 seniors and students.

• “Live from Bethlehem Square,” puppet show, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Pinson Street, 4 p.m. Tonya Jones said the children’s ministry and youth ministry of the church collaborated on the puppet project.

• Menorah Lighting, YEAH! Burger parking lot, North Highland Ave., Atlanta, 4:30-6 p.m. Gifts/treats/hot latkes/music/entertainment. Performance by Intown Jewish Preschool/Intown Hebrew School students. Free. Sponsor: Chabad of Atlanta.

• Holiday Music, chancel choir mini-concert, Senoia United Methodist Church, 5:15 p.m. In conjunction with home tour.

• Hanging of the Greens, Central Baptist Church, 6 p.m. Led by youth.

• Drive-Thru Nativity, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, 6-9 p.m.

• “O Holy Night,” Christmas music program, First United Methodist Church, Newnan, 6 p.m.

• Prepare the Way: A Service of Advent Music and Readings, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 6 p.m. Parish choir-bells/St. Cecilia’s Singers/instrumental soloists.

• “Silent Night, Holy Night,” sanctuary choir Christmas music, First Baptist Church, Moreland, 6 p.m.

• “Emmanuel: The Story of God With Us,” Woolsey Baptist Church, Fayetteville, 6 p.m. The “special Christmas program” will “celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in singing and worship,” according to Patti Phillips.

• Advent Study, Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Lone Oak, 6 p.m. “When God Comes Down” by James A. Harnish. Led by Melanie Stanley-Soulen.

• Holiday Music, Senoia United Methodist Church, 5:15 p.m. In conjunction with home tour.

Monday, Dec. 10

• “O Holy Night,” First United Methodist Church, Newnan, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

• Job Network Christmas Celebration, parish hall, First United Methodist Church, Newnan, 6 p.m. Bring a favorite dish or holiday treat to share. Bread and meat will be provided.

Wednesday, Dec. 12

• Advent Service, Word of God Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, 7 p.m. Soup supper, 6 p.m.

• Advent Service, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 14

• Christmas Dance, gymnasium, LaFayette Christian School Gym, LaGrange, 8-10:30 p.m. Admission: $20 per visitor/guest couple. Dress: coat and tie/dressy. Music: Lou Vallee Band. Slow dancing/swing/waltz/polka/foxtrot. Sponsor: Moonlight Ballroom Dance Club of LaGrange.

Saturday, Dec. 15

• Singing Christmas Tree, East Newnan Baptist Church, 6 p.m. This year’s presentation is “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.” Free tickets – www.eastnewnanbaptist.org .

• “The Plan,” Heatherwood Baptist Church, 6 p.m. The church’s music and drama departments will present “a musical drama illustrating God’s plan to bring salvation to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ,” Edward Crouse said.

• “The Joy of Christmas,” play, Line Creek Baptist Church, 7 p.m. Contemporary, three-act comedy-drama by Fred Hottensen/Jim Gant.



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