Christmas Services Start Sunday for Many Area Churches
Events range from traditional to contemporary.
From midnight Mass to "Christmas Unleashed," area churches are offering a variety of religious services that start as soon as Sunday.
Highlighting the more contemporary is The River on 59's Verve — which is advertised as "Christmas Unleashed" on freeway billboards and the church's website —at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The services are in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in the Hartland Educational Support Service Center, 9525 E. Highland Road (M-59).
This unique Christmas service involves "lots of great, celebratory music," said Jeanette Prisk, the church's creative arts director. Although Prisk doesn't want to reveal too much in advance, she points out it includes a video component to it with a personal story. Candle lighting and a mystery guest also are involved. Betsy McDaniel, a church member from Hartland, is responsible for art at all services. (For a video preview, click on the video with this story).
"It's very inspirational. It will touch people's hearts," said Prisk, who added child care options during the service will be available. "We have live art throughout the whole experience, and that is going to help tell the story."
The church plans to use a portion of the offering from these five services to fund beds for orphans in Kenya, shoes for Guatemalan children so that they can attend school (they can't go to school without shoes) and "emergency kits" to help foster kids in the area, including clothing and other necessities they often are without when they're released from the system at 18.
"You can argue theology, but you can't argue compassion," she said.
Here is a summary of other services in the Hartland area this week:
- The River on 59 will hold a children's Christmas services with "Ricky's Toy Box" at River Rock Children's Ministry at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday at Hartland Educational Support Service Center, Prisk said.
- Life Christian Church, 5202 E. Highland Road, features a special Christmas program, "The Christmas Story," on Sunday during its 10 a.m. service, said Shanda Lasala, pastor's wife. The church will also have a children's ministry available.
- Ore Creek Community Church's 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. service Sunday at Hartland Middle School at Ore Creek, 3250 N. Hartland Road, features more of a Christmas theme, according to Aaron Young, the church's youth pastor. It's probable the service Dec. 26 also will feature elements relating to Christmas, he added.
- All Saints Lutheran Church, 12701 Highland Road, continues its Advent services at 7 p.m. Wednesday. "The Longest Night" is the theme for that service, which is designed for those who are grieving during the holiday season, said Kate Zywicki, director of lay ministries. She added the church's Christmas services include a "family-friendly service" at 4:30 p.m. and a candlelight service at 10 p.m. Friday, Christmas Eve.
- Hartland United Methodist Church, 10300 Maple Road, has two services Christmas Eve, said Pastor Fred Finzer. The first features carols, candle lighting, hymns, the Christmas story and a sermon, is at 7 p.m. "Chances are it'll be the event families attend," he added. The 11:30 p.m. service is intended as a vigil of sorts, waiting for Christmas morning. (Traditionally, the church does not have a Christmas Day service unless the holiday falls on a Sunday, which Finzer said is pretty common for United Methodist churches).
- St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 2201 S. Old US 23 in Brighton Township., will hold liturgies at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Christmas Eve, said The Rev. Dave Howell. Christmas Day Mass is at 10 a.m. A Christmas dinner for anyone who would be alone or wants to come is another tradition of the church; however, reservations are required to make sure everyone can be served. Call the church office at 810-229-8624 up through Thursday to attend.
- St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 2099 N. Hacker Road, hosts three Masses on Christmas Eve, according to the Rev. Francis George. The 4 p.m. Mass is intended for children in the religious education program and their kids and families; a second, family Mass is scheduled at 7 p.m., followed by the 10 p.m. "mid-night Mass" featuring the adult choir. Christmas Day Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m.
- Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church's Christmas Eve candlelight services include a 4:30 p.m. children's service; two additional services take place at 7 and 11 p.m. A 10 a.m. Christmas Day service also is scheduled at the church, 13667 Highland Road.
- Heritage Hills Church, 5530 Runyan Lake Road, in Tyrone Township, is holding a children's Christmas program takes place Sunday at 11 a.m. and features Christmas songs, drama and bell choir, said Eunice Sanford, director of Christian education for the church. Christmas services include a Christmas Eve communion and candlelight service 7 p.m. Friday featuring special music, she said.