Three of the bigger happenings are the “Carrollton Christmas Festival” at Tabernacle Baptist Church, a performance of Antonio Vivalde’s “Gloria” at Carrollton First Baptist Church and the living nativity and “A Thrill of Hope” choir show at Carrollton First United Methodist Church.
“We wanted to do something different this year,” said Alan Schantz, associate pastor of music and worship at Tabernacle Baptist Church. “We have tried to involve more church members than the usual choir singing.”
The result is the “Carrollton Christmas Festival” which starts tonight from 7-9 p.m. Another session will be held from 7-9 p.m. Saturday and a final Sunday event from 3-5 p.m.
“We’ve created a fair-like atmosphere,” Schantz said. “People can come and go as they please and take time to enjoy all the different attractions.”
Some of these activities include:
• Missions Post Office, a place for Tabernacle members and guests to exchange Christmas cards, to address and send cards to missionaries and people at home who are shut in. In lieu of postage, the church requests that donations be made to the Acteens camp fund.
• Toy Store, where donations of toys will be accepted to be distributed to needy families. The store will also accept donations of canned goods at the country store to be given to the Open Hands Ministry in Carrollton.
• Bake Shop will serve free snacks, while the Coffee Shop will have hot drinks. Nearby stands will serve popcorn and an outside stand will have s’mores (melted chocolate and marshmallows on graham crackers).
• Outdoor activities, including horse-drawn sleigh rides on Sunday and a living nativity scene, featuring live animals.
• Christmas photos by a professional photographer, with option to place them on a CD-R to take to a local photo developer.
• Christmas tree and wreath decoration contest.
• Children’s activities, including inflatables, indoor playground, Christmas crafts, face painting and crazy hair.
And while it’s not just a musical festival, Schantz said there will be plenty of music on the Tabernacle Life Center stage.
On Friday night, Carrollton High School Show Choir will sing and Tabernacle Handbells will perform.
On Saturday night, Central High School and Tabernacle choirs will sing.
Sunday afternoon performances will include the Tabernacle Choir, Tabernacle Preschool Choir and Tabernacle Handbells.
“Door prizes will be given every day,” Schantz said.
More than 200 people have been involved in building the festival and setting up events, according to Phyllis Head, a volunteer coordinator.
“Previous Christmas programs have been limited to choir activities,” Head said. “This year we’re doing something for the entire community, to come see and go as they please.”
Schantz said the festival setting in the church’s gym is “less threatening to people who don’t want to come to a church setting.”
For people who like the more traditional setting, the Carrollton First Baptist Church will dedicate its Dec. 18 Sunday services to the staging of Vivalde’s “Gloria.”
The performances will be at the regular morning worship times of 8:30 and 11 a.m.
The show features the church’s sanctuary choir, with soloists and orchestra, Dr. Steve Davis doing commentary and Dr. Glenn Eernisse, associate pastor of music and worship.
“This is one of Vivalde’s best known works,” Eernisse said. “It was written in the early 1700s, but disappeared after his death. It wasn’t discovered until the 1920s. It was found in a pile of manuscripts. It became very popular and has since been performed often.”
He said the text begins with “glory to God on the highest,” which is the message angels brought when Christ was born, and “is certainly appropriate for Christmas.”
Soloists are Julie Lowry and Giorgia Ragni and a duet will be sung by Lowry and Susan Eernisse.
“Giorgia is from Italy and is connected with University of West Georgia,” Eernisse said. “She’s been performing in the area and will be going back to Italy in April. We’re very privileged to have her as part of our program.”
The pianist will be Tracy Rainwater and the organist Elizabeth McCollum.
The orchestra will include two violins, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet and oboe.
The Carrollton First United Methodist Church will present a program, “A Thrill of Hope” on Dec. 18 with performances at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the church’s sanctuary, as part of the day’s services.
Performers will include the Chancel Choir and Orchestra and the Carroll Ringers, the handbell group.
“It’s the Christmas narrative put into contemporary thoughts,” said Mark Barnes, minister of music. “There’s a section on hope, peace, joy and love. We use traditional carols, with some of the more modern type of musical arrangements. All the pieces have handbells.”
The church will also have a living nativity scene on its front lawn Dec. 18, with shows at 6:15 and 7 p.m., featuring live people and animals.
A Dec. 11 contemporary service at 11 a.m., “Away From the Manger,” will feature the Crosswalk Contemporary Worship Band in the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. It tells about finding the real meaning of Christmas.