Friendship churches join together for community events for Celebrating the True Message of Christmas

Friendship churches are joining together for a series of events next month to help focus on the True Message of Christmas.

A Friendship Christmas Celebration will begin this coming Saturday, December 2, with a series of activities for individuals and families which will run right through Christmas, and even New Year’s Eve.

The schedule includes lighting of a large nativity scene, Christ­mas caroling, a Gingerbread House Contest, a community concert and Christmas Eve services.

The Celebration will start at 7PM Saturday, with a large nativity scene lighting at the Friendship Missions House, the former St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, at 30 East Main Street.

Singing and a reading of the Christmas story will be included, with participants also able to drop off new and no-longer-used Bibles and other Christian literature at The Traveling Chapel for shipment to pastors and missionaries in other countries who are without ready access to such items.

The Traveling Chapel
The Chapel, which has been on the front lawn of the Missions House grounds during the past two months, now will remain there through the end of the year, with individuals able to drop off items at any time by simply opening the door of the Chapel, located on a small trailer, and placing them inside.

Nearly 20 tons of materials have been collected by the Photos for Souls ministry of Alfred during visits to various Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania communities over the past two years.

Additional parts of the schedule include:

Sunday, December 10: 6:30PM – The Second Annual Christmas Caroling event will be held at the 1st United Methodist Church, 21 West Main Street, followed by cookies and hot chocolate in the church fellowship hall.

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 a house.

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 coming 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.

In addition to these events, congregations are inviting the public to participate in two other activities including:

Prayer at the Friendship School: 8:30AM Thursday, December 7.

Service for Others – Think of Others First is the Character Trait for December at Friendship Central School, with positive traits being embraced each month by Friendship churches for modeling to students and within the community.

This characteristic and various concerns for students, teachers, additional school staff, parents and others are among focuses of a monthly prayer gathering for the school, occurring at 8:30AM the first Thursday of each month on the sidewalk in front of the facility at 46 West Main Street.

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.

Emotional Help for the Holidays – Several Friendship churches are coordinating with Allegany Hope, a Christian nonprofit organization focused on Building Healthy Communities Through Healthy Families, to aid the many individuals who struggle during the holidays due to the death of a loved one or separation or divorce.

Individual sessions are anticipated for both GriefShare and DivorceCare Surviving the Holidays, along with How to Help Grieving Children and Loss of a Spouse, during the pre-Christmas season.

These nationally-recognized video/discussion seminars aid individuals in moving through the holidays during times of loss, even from events experienced years earlier, with those wishing to know more about how to come alongside those who struggle also being welcome to participate.

How to Help Grieving Children sessions assist parents, caregivers, teachers, childcare workers and others understand what a child is experiencing at different ages due to the loss of a parent, family member or friend, or other grief situations.

Further information is available at AlleganyHopeWNY@outlook.com or (585) 664-9989.

For up-to-date additions or changes to the schedule, “Join” the What God is Doing in Friendship ny public group Facebook page.