By Gary Crum
LEBANON, Va. (Jan. 2, 2018) -- Bluegrass music was featured at a special Christmas concert recently held at Lebanon Memorial United Methodist Church.
The first annual “Bluegrass & Stained Glass Christmas Concert” was held Dec. 16 in the beautiful stained-glass sanctuary of the church located in Russell County. Throughout the church are 28 multi-colored windows created by Hauser Stained Glass Window Company of Winona, Minn. Those in the sanctuary outline the life of Jesus, as depicted by various symbols of Christendom. (Make an appointment for a tour of the windows by calling 276-889-2721.)
Featuring a local band, The Monk Family and Friends, the concert included bluegrass songs like "The Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain," intermingled with carols such as "The First Noel" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."
Performers included all ages, from children to seniors, with congregants as well as invited musicians. The music also included "Away in the Manger" sung to the banjo melody of “The Wildwood Flower” and a classical rendering of “Gesu Bambino” by pianist Mary Carole Horne and soprano Kristin Hankins.
The music of the banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, trumpet, flute, piano, church steeple bells, and sing-alongs accompanied by Horne on the organ blended to please approximately 115 persons gathered for the Saturday afternoon concert.
“While, as expected, many of our regular church members attended this special new event, we were all praising the Lord for the many people in attendance who had no previous contact with our church,” said the Rev. Timothy Hankins. “We had designed this event to reach out to those people, believing that a Saturday afternoon Christmas event featuring a local bluegrass band, might be found especially attractive.”
Hankins said the church registered this event on statewide event web-calendars and also advertised on radio, newspapers, and through social media.
“It is important to note that our main goal was not to offer an entertaining pastime, but rather to get new people to enter our church doors," Hankins said. "We prayerfully asked God for them to come to this event in order for them to feel the high level of Christian fervor and hospitality that exists here, and most of all, to share firsthand the spiritual experience of hearing the word of God spoken and the prayers and praises of the faithful being lifted up to the God whose incarnation we celebrate in the Advent and Christmas seasons.”
The Rev. Gary Crum is associate pastor at Lebanon Memorial United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Va.