Among many Christmas Eve services occurring throughout Columbia County this year, the service at Mosaic United Methodist Church will be an international affair.
The Rev. Carolyn Moore, the minister at Mosaic, said her church makes appreciating other cultures a point of emphasis.
"The vision of our church is to be intentionally inclusive of people of other cultures," Moore said. "Every Sunday, we try to remember to pray for people from other countries, and we appreciate the idea of being connected to Christians all over the world."
The service will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Evans High School.
For the second year, Moore said, she and the congregation will perform the Touch of Peace, a Christmas tradition of Iraqi Orthodox Christians. In Iraq, the Touch of Peace is the culmination of the construction of a Nativity scene at the altar of the church, Moore said.
On Christmas morning, the church priest lays the figure of the Christ-child in the manger. He then goes to the first person of the first aisle, touching that person, which symbolically transfers the touch of Jesus. The Touch of Christ is then passed from person to person, Moore said.
She decided to continue performing the Touch of Peace because it was an emotional experience last year, the pastor said.
"I touched someone, and they touched the next person, and very quickly it became people hugging people," she said. "It was just a very, very warm and peaceful experience."
At its conclusion, the minister said, the congregation prayed for peace in Iraq.
The minister said she also researched Christmas traditions in other countries, including Germany, France, Ireland, Jamaica, India, Mexico and the Czech Republic.
The goal from the beginning was "to remind ourselves God's view of the kingdom is much bigger than (our) church, much bigger than Evans, Ga. God's view is much, much larger."
The service at Mosaic is one of many candlelight and remembrance events planned for churches throughout Columbia County.
The Rev. Jack Custer, the senior pastor of Bible Cathedral on Furys Ferry Road, said his church will offer a candlelight service at 6 p.m.
The service will feature a traditional Christmas setting with children surrounding a Christmas tree as they are read the story of Christ's birth.
"I'm going to light a series of candles representing hope, peace, joy and love, and a fifth candle that will symbolize Christ," he said.
Martinez United Methodist Church will hold its annual Communion service at 5 p.m., said the Rev. Peggy Lowe.
"We're going to have a very traditional service with the carols of the season and end with Holy Communion," she said. The children of the church also will learn about Christ's birth and build Nativity scenes, she said.
Abilene Baptist Church on Washington Road in Martinez is holding its Silent Lord's Supper service at 6 p.m., said the Rev. William F. "Bill" Harrell. The service is quiet and features the sanctuary dimly lighted and the ringing of hand bells, Harrell said.
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