Churches celebrate on Christmas Eve

Children at Indian Springs' St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church portray angels during the church's 2009 Christmas Pageant. Churches across the county are holding holiday and Christmas Eve services over the next few weeks. (Contributed Photo/St. Francis of Assisi)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As the sun sets on Christmas Eve, dozens of churches across Shelby County gather together to sing, hold silent candlelight services and enjoy time spent with friends and family.

Nearly every church in the county will host a Christmas Eve event to celebrate one of the holiest days of the year.

“Christmas has long been a principal feast day,” said Rev. Lee Lowery, Rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit off Kent Dairy Road in Alabaster. “It’s the celebration of God reaching out to us in a definable way, in the flesh.

“It’s a big part of the salvation story,” said Lowery, whose church will hold a Christmas Eve festival Eucharist beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The Alabaster First United Methodist Church will hold a bluegrass-themed family service at 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, followed by traditional services at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

“This is the first time we’ve done this. The bluegrass service will be a family oriented and kid-friendly service,” said Jane Cornelius, executive ministry assistant at Alabaster First United Methodist.

“The message will be toned down to a kid-friendly level,” she added. “By having it at 3:30, we thought people would be more apt to bring their small children.”

The First Baptist Church of Pelham will feature no Christmas Eve sermon, but will instead be filled with Christmas music performed by the church’s members.

Every year, Pelham First Baptist draws between 700-800 to its Christmas Eve candlelight communion service, which will begin at 5 p.m. During the service, church members sing and play Christmas music while families take communion at the sanctuary’s altar.

“There is no preaching at the service,” said Bro. Mike Shaw, pastor of Pelham First Baptist. “We all just come to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s all about being part of the family of God.

“We light the candles after everyone takes communion, and turn the sanctuary lights down,” Shaw added. “It’s always a very touching scene.”

Here is a list of holiday and Christmas Eve services throughout Shelby County:

Alabaster

– Kingwood Church off Industrial Drive will hold its Christmas communion service during its 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services Dec. 19.

– Westwood Baptist Church off Alabaster Boulevard will hold its Christmas Eve service from 5-6 p.m.

– Alabaster First Baptist Church off Third Avenue Northwest will hold its Christmas Eve service at 9 p.m.

– Evangel Church off Thompson Road will hold its Christmas Eve communion service from 5-6 p.m.

– The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit off Kent Dairy Road will hold its Christmas Eve festival Eucharist from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

– The Amazing Grace Worship Center off U.S. 31 in Saginaw will host its sounds of the season service Dec. 19 at 10:45 a.m.

Pelham

– Pelham First Baptist Church off U.S. 31 will hold its candlelight Christmas Eve service from 5-6 p.m.

– CrossCreek First Baptist Church off Crosscreek Trail will hold its candlelight Christmas Eve ceremony at 6 p.m.

– The Rock Church at 3540 Pelham Parkway will hold its Christmas service from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 19.

– The Korean Presbyterian Church of Birmingham at 7814 Helena Road in Pelham will hold its Christmas Eve dinner at 6:30 p.m. and its program at 7:30 p.m.

Helena

– First Baptist Church of Helena off Shelby County 261 will hold its Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m.

– Helena United Methodist Church will hold its Christmas Eve Children’s Christmas Party from 4-4:45 p.m.

– Helena Cumberland Presbyterian Church off Shelby County 261 will hold a Christmas Eve “come-and-go” communion service from 6-7 p.m.

– Gospel Light Baptist Church off Roy Drive in Helena will hold its Christmas services Dec. 19 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

– The Church at Cahaba Bend off Shelby County 52 will hold its Christmas Eve service from 4-5 p.m.

– Grace Christian Church off Shelby County 52 will hold a “come-and-go” communion from 4-6 p.m. and candlelight service at 11 p.m.

Columbiana

– Columbiana First Baptist Church off Main Street will hold its Christmas Eve service at 5:30 p.m.

– The Columbiana First United Methodist Church off Main Street will hold a “come-and-go” communion from 5:30-7 p.m.

Chelsea

– Liberty Baptist Church on Chelsea Road will hold its Christmas Eve service from 5-6 p.m.

– Morningstar United Methodist Church off Shelby County 11 will hold its Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m.

– The Church of the Good Shepherd Charismatic Episcopal Church off Day Spring Drive will hold its Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m.

– Grace Presbyterian Church off Foothills Parkway will hold its Christmas service Dec. 19 at 10:45 a.m.

– St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church off Shelby County 39 will have a children’s service on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. and a midnight mass at 10:30 p.m.

Montevallo

– St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Montevallo will hold a Christmas Eve children’s mass at 5 p.m., a family mass at 9 p.m. and a Christmas Day mass at 10 a.m.

Calera

– The Church at Shelby Crossings off George Roy Parkway will hold its Christmas program Dec. 12 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

– Concord Church in Calera will hold its Christmas Shoes drama Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m.

– Calera First United Methodist Church will hold a Christmas Eve “come and go” communion from 5-6 p.m.

North Shelby

– Oak Mountain Church off Cahaba Valley Trace will hold Christmas Eve services at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

– Inverness Vineyard Church off Valleydale Road will host “A Very Merry Vineyard Christmas” on Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

– The Episcopal Church of St. Francis of Assisi off Alabama 119 in Indian Springs Village will hold a Christmas Eve family service at 5:30 p.m. and a midnight service beginning at 11 p.m. The church will also hold a Christmas Day morning service at 10 a.m.