In what has become a Christmas tradition for many in the community, Abilene Baptist Church will present four performances of its annual Singing Christmas Tree starting Friday.
The program for the 31st annual event is titled "It's Mall About Christmas." The story centers on a mall marketing manager who invites his church's choir and music ministry to perform at the retail hub, said Tommy Sunderland, the Abilene music minister.
"It's got some funny moments and some touching moments," Sunderland said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
In addition to a dramatic performance, about 100 church choir members and a 40-member orchestra will perform.
The singers will position themselves around a 30-foot wooden structure in the shape of a Christmas tree. The tree will be decorated with live greenery, lights and ornaments.
The performances will take place at the Martinez church at 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday. A 3 p.m. matinee presentation also is scheduled for Sunday.
Though the event is free, guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
"Especially with the economy the way it is, there are a lot of folks who aren't going to get the kind of Christmas that we'd like for them to have," Sunderland said. "We get to be a part of brightening some families' lives."
The church can accommodate about 1,000 people, and nearly 5,000 guests attended last year's performances, he said.
Sunderland hopes audience members gain an appreciation for the true meaning of Christmas.
"It's certainly about the message for us and getting out the message that it is all about Christ," he said. "That's why we want folks to come."
Tickets are available for all four performances, but typically go quickly, Sunderland said. Tickets can be reserved by visiting the church's office at 3917 Washington Road between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday or between 9 a.m. and noon Friday.
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