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Country Gospel Service Slated January 16, 2018

Community United Methodist Church, 130 Tennyson Drive, Lancaster, will hold a country gospel worship service on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The praise and worship experience will feature music by the band Rugged Cross, congregational singing with country music style songs and hymns, and a brief message by pastor Harry Kaufhold.

Casual dress is appropriate for this relaxed and informal time of worship. For more information, call the church office at 717-393-9182 or 717-615-0525.

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Neighbors Group To Meet January 12, 2018

Chiques Church of the Brethren, 4045 Sunnyside Road, Manheim, invites all women and preschool children to Neighbors Sharing and Caring on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 9 to 10:45 a.m.

Guest speaker Amy Rohrer will present the "The Blessing in Freezer Meals." She will include some simple tips on how to have freezer meals ready to go and how to host a freezer meal swap with friends. Rohrer lives in Manheim with her husband Kevin. She is a stay-at-home mom to three daughters.

Classes are provided for infants through prekindergartners. Readers may contact Rose at 717-665-9417 or Veronica at 717-626-7603 for more information and/or a copy of this year's schedule.

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Church Celebrates The 12 Days Of Christmas December 28, 2017

The Rev. Clifton Eshbach of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 3131 Columbia Ave., Lancaster, is continuing a tradition he started several years ago. Each day during the 12-day season of Christmas, Eshbach changes the congregation's message sign to signify each day of the 12 days of Christmas.

The tradition began when Eshbach arrived at the church in 2013 and encouraged the congregation to continue wishing others a merry Christmas throughout the 12 days of the Christmas season. When the church purchased a new message sign the following year, Eshbach decided to use it to post such reminders for passersby.

The 12 days of the Christmas season are from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 each year. Jan. 6 marks the festival of the Epiphany of Our Lord, which is celebrated at the congregation's worship service.

Holy Spirit holds its regular Sunday worship service at 9:30 a.m. For more information on the church, readers may visit www.holyspiritlutheran.org, call 717-394-6771, or email holyspiritluth@gmail.com.

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Church Members Dish Up Christmas Dinner December 26, 2017

More than 80 people from the community gathered to enjoy a Christmas Day dinner at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown on Dec. 25. This was the fifth year that the meal has been offered by church volunteers.

Those who attended the event were treated to a complete holiday dinner that included turkey, ham, noodles with cheese, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn that contained tiny pieces of red and green peppers. "That makes the corn more festive," noted volunteer Karl Findeison, who was in charge of cooking the meal.

Also offered were beverages and a variety of holiday desserts, including fruit salad, cookies and candy. Pie was served tableside by church volunteers.

The dinner was held in the church's Family Life Center, which was decorated for the occasion. A stereo provided Christmas music, and more than 30 church volunteers helped out at the event.

According to church member Becky Bennington, event organizer, this year's dinner was one of the largest ever held at the church. "We have a lot more guests from the community than we have had in the past, which is great," said Bennington. "Some signed up and some didn't, so you never know (for sure how many will attend)."

She noted that the food, some of which was which was purchased through donations, was prepared at the church. "We have generous donors who help us financially," she said, noting that the church also received donations of canned goods. "This is the first year we prepared all the food ourselves. In the past it's been catered by (an area restaurant)."

Following the dinner, attendees were invited to take home the extra food in takeout containers provided by the church. "We have enough for everyone to take home if they want to," said Bennington. "We want to send everyone home with another meal if we can."

Additionally, 20 takeout meals were provided for Safe Harbor of Chester County, and all leftover food was delivered to City Gate in Coatesville.

Bennington said that each year, people of all ages and backgrounds attend the dinner and some make it a yearly tradition. "Some people just want to spent time with other people. It's not just (for) people who don't have someone. There are whole families here," Bennington added. "It's a place to go and be with community, and that's what Christmas is all about."

Hopewell United Methodist Church is located at 852 Hopewell Road, Downingtown. Worship services at Hopewell include a Saturday contemporary service at 5:25 p.m. in the main sanctuary. Sunday traditional worship services are held at 8 and 9:30 a.m. in Bower Chapel, located on the church campus. Sunday contemporary worship services are held at 9:30 and 10:55 a.m. in the main sanctuary.

For more information, readers may visit www.hopewellumc.org or contact the church office at 610-269-1545 or hopewell@hopewellumc.org. More information is also available by searching for "Hopewell UMC, Downingtown, PA" on Facebook.

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Blue Christmas Service Posted December 22, 2017

Hope United Methodist Church, 3474 Rothsville Road, Ephrata, will offer its annual Blue Christmas service on Sunday, Dec. 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. This will be a drop-in service for persons for whom the Christmas season may not be a time of joy and celebration due to a personal loss or other reason.

There will be refreshments, seasonal music, and time for prayer in a subdued loving atmosphere. For more information, readers may call the church at 717-738-3774.

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Sharing Peace On Earth December 20, 2017

Church Hosts International Christmas Feast

Hailing from 49 nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, about 525 people celebrated Christmas and cross-cultural friendship at Mount Joy Mennonite Church's (MJMC) third annual international Christmas feast on Dec. 3 at The Junction Center in Manheim.

Guests posed together at a photo booth, marked their countries of origin on a large world map, and shared a halal and mostly vegan meal catered by a local social impact business that is involved in refugee employment. "We are very glad that you have joined us in Lancaster County," said MJMC lead pastor Karl Landis to those assembled. "If you needed to leave your homeland because of danger, war, famine, or religious persecution, we are glad that you are safe here. We believe that you will enrich our communities. We look forward to learning to know you and to being neighbors with you."

Mustafa Nuur, a Somalian refugee who resettled in Lancaster in 2014, attended last year's feast as well. The winner of Lancaster's 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch with Bridge, a startup that connects people with the cultural talents of refugees, Nuur believes in fostering a connected and caring community. "This party is one of the times in the year I see a community truly come together across cultural and religious affiliation. It reassures me that despite what's going on in the world, people can find understanding and share a happy time," Nuur said. "It's a welcome beyond what words can describe."

Each table was hosted by an individual or couple from MJMC, who provided an appetizer and engaged with the guests throughout the evening to ensure that all were welcomed warmly.

MJMC member Jonathan Bornman, who served as a co-host for the feast, said the idea for the feast originated in 2015 when the church leaders began to feel that they should devote the time and energy normally used for their candlelight Christmas Eve service to something that would connect more strongly with the local community or those in need. This vision coincided with the global refugee crisis, which was bringing hundreds of refugees to Lancaster County.

The outcome was a cross-cultural Christmas feast with 325 attendees, including refugees or immigrants from more than 30 countries. In 2016, the event drew 450 guests representing 37 countries.

"It's a whole-church effort," said Nita Landis, who co-chaired the event-planning committee of eight along with associate pastor Ryan McQuitty. Even third- and fourth-graders in the church's Pioneer Clubs program got involved by assembling 150 activity bags for children attending the feast.

Guest Andrew Mashas, who attends Sunnyside Mennonite Church, saw the event as a "whole-church effort" in a broader sense. He said it served as a place for members of Mennonite churches across Lancaster County to unite over a common passion for extending hospitality to those from other countries.

As the night ended with a rendition of "Joy to the World" and guests went home with packets of sweets from another local company that hires refugees, Landis felt that she had seen a glimpse of peace on earth. "I believe that all human hearts respond with joy when someone is glad to be with them, and I love extending this joy, especially to refugees who have endured great loss and trauma," she said.

"As I sat in the balcony looking out over all those people from so many places, I felt like I was watching a preview of heaven, where every tongue, tribe, and nation will be present," said MJMC member Rebecca Rome. "It was one of the best nights of my life."

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Centennial Church Posts Service December 20, 2017

Centennial Lutheran Church, 1330 Hares Hill Road, Kimberton, will hold a worship service at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31.

The service will include a message by pastor Jerry Tancredi and the celebration of Holy Communion. It will be a service of Lessons and Carols, with the reading of Scripture alternating with the singing of Christmas carols. All are welcome to attend.

Information about church events is available at www.centenniallutheran.org or by emailing info@centenniallutheran.org.

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Church Plans Christmas Eve Services December 15, 2017

Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ, 450 W. Main St., Mountville, invites the community to celebrate Christmas during its services in the sanctuary on Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24.

The 10:30 a.m. service will include Communion, and a Christmas Eve candle lighting service will take place at 7 p.m. Featured will be the vocal choir, the bell choir, and special Christmas music presentations by Trinity members with music director Daniel Molkenthin.

The church is pastored by Don Fenestre-Marek. For more information, readers may visit www.mountvilletrinityucc.org or www.facebook.com/MountvilleTRUCC.

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Church Posts Holiday Service December 14, 2017

Elizabethtown United Zion Church, 401 E. Park St., Elizabethtown, invites the public to attend the church's Christmas Eve service, set for Sunday, Dec. 24, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The program is suitable for all ages and will feature a chalk talk by Elva Hurst.

For more information, readers may call Amy at 717-664-2017.

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Lititz UMC Posts Christmas Eve Services December 14, 2017

Senior pastor Jerry McGrath has announced that Lititz United Methodist Church (UMC), 201 E. Market St., Lititz, will hold five Christmas Eve services on Sunday, Dec. 24. A variety of programs featuring an assortment of worship styles will be offered.

The Sunday morning services will be held at regular times. These include a traditional service at 9 a.m. and an informal contemporary gathering at 10:30 a.m.

At 4 p.m. there will be a special service that is designed for children but will be enjoyable for the whole family. The interactive service will allow children to be involved in the worship and will feature well-known Christmas songs.

At 6:30 p.m., a narrative and musical retelling of the Christmas story, featuring a praise band, will take place. Eric Fisher will lead worship and will be joined by the praise band. A candle lighting will highlight the service.

Traditional worship will be held at 8:30 p.m., with an organ recital by Keith Reifsnyder preceding the service at 8 p.m. A classic candle lighting will highlight the evening along with traditional hymns and choir anthems.

All are welcome, including those who are searching for answers or would like to learn more about the church. For more information about the Christmas Eve services or about the church, readers may visit www.lititzumc.org or call the church office at 717-626-2710.

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Church Plans Holiday Services December 14, 2017

Leacock Presbyterian Church, 3181 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, will offer two Christmas Eve services on Sunday, Dec. 24. The 7 p.m. service, held in the Paradise sanctuary, will be a family service, featuring the bell choir, carols, and a candle lighting.

The 11 p.m. service of lessons and carols, concluding with a candle lighting, will be held at the 277-year-old Old Leacock Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of Old Leacock Road and Old Philadelphia Pike near Intercourse.

For more information, readers may call the church at 717-687-6619 or visit www.leacockpres.org.

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Grace Chapel Sets Candlelight Service December 14, 2017

Grace Chapel, 2535 Colebrook Road, Elizabethtown, will hold a Christmas Eve candlelight service on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 5:30 p.m. Pastor Mel Weaver and the Grace Chapel congregation invite the community to attend.

The service will include Christmas worship music and carols, music from family and church members, and a reading. The evening will conclude with the congregational display of lights.

The guest soloist will be Gwendolyn Bowers, mezzo-soprano. Bowers, a native of Iowa, completed her undergraduate work in vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music. She has won numerous awards and has received a five-year grant from the William Mattheus Sullivan Foundation in New York. She was also awarded a two-year apprenticeship with Houston Grand Opera Studio, and she has taken part in many performances with Texas Opera Theater's touring productions.

The Erie Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Rochester Philharmonic have engaged her for "Messiah" performances. She was selected as a soloist for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, and others.

Grace Chapel is located 3 miles west of Route 743 on Route 341.

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Church Plans Holiday Services December 14, 2017

St. John (Sadler's) Lutheran Church, 2916 Sadlers Church Road, Stewartstown, has slated its holiday worship services. A Candlelight Christmas Eve service, including carols and Holy Communion, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m. The church will hold a service of lessons and carols on the first Sunday of Christmas, Dec. 31, at 9 a.m.

For more information, readers may visit www.sadlerschurch.org or call the church office at 717-993-3873.

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Candlelight Service Planned December 14, 2017

Mount Wolf Community Church, 98 S. Sixth St., Mount Wolf, will host a candlelight Christmas Eve service on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

For details, readers may contact 717-266-8453 or mwcc@comcast.net or visit www.mwcc98.org.

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Christmas Eve Service Slated December 14, 2017

Longstown United Methodist Church, 2975 Carol Road, York, will hold a Christmas Eve service with candlelight on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m.

All are welcome to attend.

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St. Paul's UCC Plans Services December 13, 2017

St. Paul's United Church of Christ (UCC), 101 Worthington Road, Exton, has posted its Christmas Eve services. Worship services will be held on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 10:30 a.m. and at 5 and 7 p.m. Also, the worship service on Sunday, Dec. 31, will begin at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, readers may call 610-363-7285 or email stpucc@verizon.net.

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Church Plans Holiday Services December 13, 2017

Petra Church, 565 Airport Road, New Holland, will host two Christmas Eve programs on Sunday, Dec. 24. Both the 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. programs will have the theme "Unexpected Grace."

During the program, Piercing Word will present an original bluegrass musical drama combining the traditional Christmas story word-for-word with prophetic passages about the coming Messiah. The program will also include Christmas carols, a special musical number with a drum line, and glow sticks.

The event is family-friendly. Child care will not be provided. Sign interpretation will be provided at the 4 p.m. program.

The community is also invited to Petra's Sunday morning service on Dec. 24 from 10 to 11 a.m.

For more information, readers may visit www.petra.church.

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Christmas Eve Services Set December 13, 2017

Stewartstown United Methodist, 26 S. Main St., Stewartstown, will sponsor three Christmas Eve services on Sunday, Dec. 24. A family service will begin at 4:30 p.m. that is specifically designed for families with children. At 7:30 p.m., a 25-minute live Nativity drama will take place on the lawn of the church with carols and candlelight, weather permitting.

The 40-voice Christmas choir and 20-piece sanctuary orchestra will present the Christmas cantata "Hope of the Broken World" by David Clydesdale at 10:30 p.m. The cantata service will conclude with candle lighting. An organ recital will precede the service at 10 p.m.

For further information, readers may contact the Music Ministry Office at 717-993-2507, ext. 11.

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Special Service Schedule Posted December 13, 2017

Christmas Eve services will be celebrated at St. Jacob's Lutheran Church, 3444 Sticks Road, Glen Rock, on Sunday, Dec. 24. Services will be held at 8 and 10:30 a.m. A Candlelight and Carols service will also be held at 7 p.m.

The public is invited to attend. For more details, readers may call the church at 717-235-7313.

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Holiday Service Schedule Posted December 13, 2017

St. Paul United Church of Christ, 161 S. Main St., Shrewsbury, will celebrate its Christmas Eve candlelight Communion services of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 2 and 7 p.m. The theme will be "Pass It On, Jesus is Coming."

For more information, readers may call Pastor Martha Boyer at 717-858-2991.

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