A Friendship Christmas gets underway

Friendship area residents sing The First Noel Saturday night at the Missions House on East Main Street, followed by a biblical reading of the Christmas story and the lighting of an outdoor nativity scene, as community churches join together for Celebrating the True Message of Christmas. Additional activities for individuals and families will take place through the end of the year.

The churches of Friendship joined together last night to begin a multi-week A Friendship Christmas – Celebrating the True Message of Christmas.

Singing of The First Noel, to reflect the birth of Jesus, a reading from Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke from the Bible which narrates the story of Christmas, prayer, and lighting of a large nativity scene and the Traveling Chapel on the front lawn of the Friendship MIssions House at 30 East Main Street, Saturday night focused the seasonal message seeking to be conveyed by the churches between now and the end of the year.

The month-long celebration will continue at 6:30PM this coming Sunday, December 10, with the Second Annual Christmas Community Caroling Event at the 1st United Methodist Church, 21 West Main Street, followed by cookies and hot chocolate in the church fellowship hall.

Other activities for individuals and families include:

Saturday, December 16: 2PM to 4PM – Area residents will be able to enter a joint-churches Gingerbread House Contest at the Bible Baptist Church, 43 West Main Street, with the five churches of Friendship each providing a $50 gift certificate as prizes for top contestants who create an entry.

Participating churches are the First United Methodist, Bible Baptist, Followers of the Way-Nile Community, Church of God in Christ, and the United Church of Friendship.

Community residents stopping in to view the displays will be treated to hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program of Cornell Cooperative Extension – Allegany County having gingerbread men for children to decorate and a gingerbread cookie mix, while supplies last, for families to take home with them.

Contestants can bring their entries, able to fit on folding tables at the church, to Bible Baptist at 1:30PM, with results of judging by community leaders being announced at 4:15PM. Further information is available at friendshipchurch.dcb@gmx.com or (585) 973-7951.

Sunday, December 17: 3PM – A jointly-sponsored Christmas concert, Unto Us, sharing the meaning of the Advent season symbolized by hope, peace, joy, and love,will be presented by the Fountain Arts Center Youth Choir of Belmont at the United Church of Friendship, 31 East Main Street.

The group, under direction of Amanda Robbins, will sing a blend of Christmas carols, interspersed throughout the program by several piano solos and duets, a brass ensemble, string quartets, and flute pieces.

Refreshments will be provided following the free activity.

Sunday, December 24: On Christmas Eve, Followers of the Way – Nile Community Church will conduct services at 6:30PM at its facility at 4095 State Route 275, to include a candle lighting. A similar service also will be held at 7PM at the Bible Baptist Church, followed by home-baked cookies and other refreshments.

Regular Sunday worship services also will be held at other locations.

Sunday, December 31: 8:30PM – A New Year’s Eve Family Celebration, including family fun, a movie, food and fellowship will be held at the Bible Baptist Church.

During December, The Traveling Chapel will continue to be located on the Missions House grounds, accepting no-long-used Bibles and other Christian materials which will be forwarded to pastors and missionaries in other countries where such items aren’t able to be obtained easily.

The project, a ministry of PhotosforSouls.com of Alfred, has collected nearly 20 tons of materials over the past two years at locations in Northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York, with those wishing to donate simply open the door of the miniature chapel and placing items inside.

Prayer at Friendship School
Churches also will be continuing their monthly prayers during December for Friendship Central School.

Participants gather at 8:30AM on the first Thursday of the month on the sidewalk in front of the school to pray for students, teachers, additional school staff, parents and others.

A particular focus will be on the school’s December Character Trait of Service for Others – Think of Others First, with positive traits being embraced each month by Friendship churches for modeling to students and adults within the community.

Everyone is welcome to participate in prayer, or simply attend, with individuals who are working or otherwise unable to be at the school being encouraged to pray where they are at that time.

In event of inclement weather, prayer will occur on the front porch or just inside the front door of the Bible Baptist Church, across the street from the school.