Those around the world who can't openly celebrate Christmas will be honored as part of a candlelight service Thursday.
The annual Columbia County Community Candlelight Christmas Service will pay tribute to people throughout the world who are unable to worship freely. Mosaic Untied Methodist Church is the host of the event.
"Probably the best part of the service, from my perspective, is the time of prayer," said the Rev. Carolyn Moore, Mosaic's pastor. "As we celebrate our own holiday, it just seems right that we take time to remember those who are in less-free circumstances."
During the Thursday service, prayers will be offered in Armenian, Turkish, Arabic, Romanian, Chinese and Indian, Moore said.
In an effort to commemorate the Orthodox Christians in Iraq, Moore said they will perform The Touch of Peace, a tradition for Iraqi Christians. On Christmas morning in Iraq, the church's priest marches the figure of baby Jesus throughout town to lay him in the manger at the church. He then touches the person standing closest to him, and the touch of Christ is then passed along to everyone in the church, Moore said.
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Amphitheater in Evans and last about an hour.
In addition to prayer, guests can participate in singing traditional carols, said Moore, adding that a big screen, displaying words to the songs, and a lifesize manger scene will also be set up at the amphitheater.
The candlelight service will be held at the end of the event.
"We're the ones who happen to have the joy of hosting it, but we want this to be a Columbia County event," Moore said.
Those attending are asked to bring blankets, hats, gloves or scarves to donate to Augusta Urban Ministries, which will distribute them to people in need.
People unable to attend can drop items off at Mosaic, 478 Columbia Industrial Blvd. in Evans.
Bean Baskette will provide hot chocolate and coffee for purchase at the service.
Nearly 300 people took part in last year's event, said Moore, who hopes the gathering will continue to grow.
"We want this to be a Columbia County tradition," Moore said. "We don't have many opportunities to do things right here together. We want this to be one of them."
For information, call (706) 650-9187 or visit www.mosaicumc.org.
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