The Dec. 21 evening service at Fairview United Methodist Church had a distinctively Appalachian flavor to it.
The Appalachian Christmas program drew a large crowd to hear the bluegrass music and story telling as well as a very special Nativity scene, church business administrator Noah Allen said.
“Everything went very, very well. We had tremendous attendance. The house was full. We had about 900 in the main sanctuary,” he said. “We’ve always had good attendance but this was probably the best. The program was basically remembering our heritage, where we live, and celebrating Christmas in the way East Tennessee does. That’s where we got the name Appalachian Christmas.”
Allen said the program included different types of singing, including traditional carols. “We had a bluegrass band and storytelling by a member of the staff, Roxanna Jones,” he said.
“We did a service that was laid back and non-formal, which is what Appalachian is. We tried to advertise it as an evening with toe-tapping bluegrass music, storytelling and a special Nativity scene that was very, very touching.”
The special Nativity featured the special needs children of the church.
“It was very touching, seeing the way these special children could take part in the Nativity program even though they maybe challenged physically in different ways,” Allen said. “Two of the children were in wheelchairs, and one was on a bed.”
Their performance, Allen indicated, touched the hearts of all there.
The special needs children were assisted by friends and family in performing the Nativity, inclulding some of their siblings. The cast of characters included Jimmy Mund as Joseph; Lauren Wyrick as Mary; Bailee Handscomb as the Angel; Bradley Byrd and Jaxon Potter as Wise Men, with help from Logan Thompson; McKayla Thompson and Hannah King as shepherds, with additional shepherd help from Ben Wyrick and Reagan Peters.
Carissa Hill was the director with the help of parents and buddies Mike Mund, Whitney Hair, Lisa Shewmaker and BJ Ewel.