Epworth UMC to host Christmas Eve service at Starcher mansion

Suzette Lowe

It may be slightly different than in past years, but Epworth United Methodist Church will host its annual Christmas Eve service.

“Ripley Believes in Christmas: the Celebration of the Birth of Jesus” will begin at 7 p.m. outside the Starcher mansion. All those who attend will stay in their cars for the drive-in service.

Epworth’s minister, Reverend Ford Price, said the decision to continue with the tradition was easy.

“Normally Christmas Eve is our second largest service,” he said. “We have standing room only, so we were determined to find a way to continue safely. Bobbi and Allen Ferrell were gracious in offering the grounds behind the mansion for that evening.”

The observance will include traditional carols led by John Ryder. Special music by will be performed by Barbara Balash, Lisa Bailey, Julie Morris, Sharon Turkaly, and Ryder, accompanied by Joyce Lawhon.

“We’ll be reading the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke,” Reverend Price said. “I’ll be delivering a short message as well.”

Communion and a candlelight service will end the evening.

“Each person coming who would like to take part in Holy Communion will be given the elements in pre-packaged containers as they drive in,” the pastor explained.

While traditional candles won’t be used, everyone who attends is encouraged to bring battery candles, small flashlights, or cell phones to provide the light.

“It will be beautiful to see and hear as everyone sings “Silent Night,” said the pastor.

The impact of this event on the community is clear to Reverend Price.

“It’s so important to have this in person,” he said. “We can still be physically together on Christmas Eve, even if we have to adjust a little. This is open to the public, so we hope we have many attend.”

The message is also one that is especially vital this year.

“COVID-19 can’t stop Christmas,” he said. “Nothing can stop the hope that comes at this special time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.”

The service will also be streamed live on the Epworth United Methodist Church Facebook page.