First Baptist Church presents 24th Singing Christmas Tree ‘Christmas Changes Everything!’

  • Friday, December 13, 2013


First Baptist Church of Georgetown will present its 24th annual Singing Christmas Tree this weekend: Friday through Monday.

The title of this year’s program is “Christmas Changes Everything!”

Featured will be a nearly 80-voice choir, made up largely of church members plus others from the community, accompanied by live musicians, engaging drama, and spectacular lighting.

The production is under the direction of Jay Holmes, minister of music, who cordially invites the community to attend.

Free tickets are required for each service; these are good until 15 minutes before the hour and may be picked up at the First Baptist Church office, 219 Cleland St., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The 2013 Singing Christmas Tree will open with the first service on Friday at 7 p.m., with a prelude concert featuring the Silver Ling Dance Academy of Myrtle Beach at 6:15 p.m.

The piano/violin husband and wife duo of Michael and Agnes Giuliani will present the prelude concerts 45 minutes before each of the two services on Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m.

“Christmas Changes Everything” continues on Sunday at 7 p.m. (prelude concert at 6:15 p.m. by harpist Becky Nissen) and concludes on Monday at 7 p.m. featuring members of the Georgetown County School District Project BEACH Singers under the direction of Olivia P. Huggins.

The Christmas story will be told from the unique perspective of a television news team that has been granted the exclusive privilege of having one of its reporters be the initial person (other then the inventor) to travel in the world’s first working time machine. The destination: Bethlehem of Judea; the time: the night of the very first Christmas. The field reporter, played by Susie Shoman, and her cameraman share interviews with the main characters of the Nativity which prove that every detail of the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible is historically and factually true.

The two news anchors, Gilda Mims and Keith Wall, not only experience how this invention alters the course of science and history, but also how Christmas truly does change everything.

Those playing the nativity characters are Anna Ruth Bradham (Mary), Jacob McDaniel (Joseph), Abigail Louise Frye (Baby Jesus), Tom Newmister and Jack Powers (head shepherds Benjamin and David), Job Bradham, Joshua Bradham, Cody Lockliear, Ryan Long, Addison Soles, and Warren McCord (other shepherds), wise men Archie Hanna (Melchior), Wil Bradham (Caspar, played by Seth Rowell on Saturday), Caleb Freyer (Balthasar), Paul Graham, Matt Mims, and Tracy Rowell, and their pages, Caroline Baker, Kelsey Campbell, Regan Causey, Montasia Cokley, Natalie Cumbee, Callie Foxwell, Emily Graham, Kelly Graham, Molly Graham, Sara McCord, Hannah Mims, Sadie Mims, and Ashley Sipe, and Jesse Foxwell (the angel).

The program will open with a congregational medley of favorite carols and will include the theme song, “Christmas Changes Everything,” as well as an arrangement of a selection which has become a seasonal favorite, “A Baby Changes Everything.” The choir will also be a lively, percussive arrangement of “Joy to the World” and other songs which include parts of familiar carols and enhance the telling of the Christmas story. Arnette Graham will provide signing of the songs for the hearing impaired at each service.

Members of the First Baptist Worship Band will accompany the choir, including rehearsal accompanists Kathy Newton (piano) and Ruth Reames (organ) as well as Morgan Kelly (drums), pastor Ted Sherrill (electric guitar), Danny Newton (bass), and Casey Newton (acoustic guitar). Guest percussionist is Phil Beresic. First Baptist Church wishes to thank Georgetown High School for the use of their timpani and chimes.

The Worship Choir of First Baptist forms the nucleus of the Singing Christmas Tree Choir, which sings as “human ornaments” in the 23-foot tree structure. First sopranos are Billie Bedingfield, April Bensch, Christi Benton, Marisa Cooper, Melanie Foxwell, Beth Harter, Wilhelmenia Jenkins, Geanenne Kelly, Bobbie McCutchen, Skyla Owens, Carlette Stewart, Meredith Thompkins, and Nancy Whitlock.

The second sopranos include Patty Baldwin, Becky Bratcher, Sharon Brown, Debra Casselman, Julie Casselman, Carolyn Cribb, Brenda DeLuca, Emily Inman, Wilhelmina Johannemann, Anne McCutchen, Theresa Nicol, Susie Shoman, Cheryl Stone, Danielle Stone, Hillary Stone, Denise Thompkins, and Julie Warren.

Singing alto are JoAnn Barnhill, Ruth Buchanan, Ada Castleman, Angela Conner, Phyllis Douglas, Kathy Eicher, Erin E. Ethridge, Lynn Floyd, Anna Fox, Frances M. Grant, Joy Johnson, Stephanie Johnson, Mary Ellen Jones, Jennifer Logan, Debbie Martin, Jillian Metherd, Alvilda Meyers, Bonnie Morrison, Alma Owens, Sharon Parrott, Karen Price, Denise Sherman, Jane Sizemore, Jamie Thompkins, and Warisa “Mint” Umarat.

The tenor section consists of David Bensch, Larry Cumbee, Jason Harter, Robert L. Johnson, Al Saunders, Joshua Shubrick Sr., Jamey Stewart, and Mitch Thompkins.

Basses are David Baldwin, Brady Buchanan, Donnie Bullard, Larry Cribb, Jeff Eicher, Julius Inman, Don Jagers, John V. Meyers, Bub Mitchell, Tom Olker, Mark Pender, Michael Pinkerton, Rob Stalvey, Ken Walker, and Lynn Wood Wilson.

Soloists for the tree are Marisa Cooper, Jamey Stewart, Al Saunders, and April Bensch.

The Singing Christmas Tree utilizes thousands of lights, which are programmed so that the light sequences enhance the mood and feeling of each song and drama scene. From traditional ceramic bulbs and twinkles to more contemporary LEDS and spots with moving heads, fixtures and colors are set to the rhythm and tempo of the songs to create a variety of atmospheres. Light programming and operation is done by Jeff Foxwell, who spends countless hours meticulously preparing the patterns for each song. Dozens of volunteers assist in hanging and arranging the lights.

“One of my favorite scenes is the moving, almost magical appearance of the cross in the tree,” says Holmes. “It reminds us of the true reason that Jesus came into this world, the ultimate sacrifice He made for us, and why the celebration of this event we call Christmas is so eternally significant.”

The sound is always a vital part of the Singing Christmas Tree, and this year video will also play a most important role in telling the story of Christ’s coming. Elijah Metherd and Jan Kelly are the sound operators, while Nancy Rowell controls the computer for projection. Jason Wheeler is the cameraman who filmed and edited the dramatic video segments.

The tree structure for the Singing Christmas Tree is covered in live greenery. The church wishes to thank Ricky West of West Tree farm and Patrick Causey for the donation of trees for this year’s production. Gratitude is also expressed to Robert Johnson and AgruAmerica for the donation of stage flooring and to J&S Flooring for the donation of carpet for the drum riser.

Last, but certainly not least, First Baptist Church is grateful to the scores of persons who donated countless hours of time to work in dozens of areas to make the Singing Christmas Tree, the congregation’s annual gift to our community, a wonderful reality.

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