LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
At this time of year, there are numerous cultures worldwide that celebrate a variety of holidays. In our part of the country, holidays bring friends, neighbors, and families together; employees and business acquaintances share time together; and yes, church congregations celebrate the season as well.
It has been a very eventful time of year in particular for Jewel City Church, which truly rejoiced with a very memorable prelude to Thanksgiving a few weeks ago as they commemorated their 25th anniversary. For Pastor Robert Shingleton, who started the church a quarter of a century ago with just 23 people attending, the growth he has witnessed was reason enough to celebrate! Nearly 1,200 members have joined the church since then, and they now worship in a new state-of-the art facility that opened its doors just a year ago.
Recently, they marked the occasion with a full weekend of events, beginning with a three-hour concert with three nationally recognized gospel groups taking part. It was a very poignant stroll down memory lane for Pastor Shingleton, who noted that the weekend also included a reuniting of the original Jewel City Quartet and the return of the church’s former worship leader who came from South Carolina to join them.
That Sunday morning, the worship service message was delivered by Pastor Shingleton’s best friend in the ministry who now resides in Maryland, and many additional surprises that he was unaware of made the service an unforgettable occasion. Later that evening, the congregation gathered for a formal gala with a catered meal and entertainment offered by yet another professional group from Nashville.
“Our church is very blessed and we know where it comes from,” he stated. “All we want to do is open our doors to help people, and the Lord never fails to bring it back to us.”
Now, with the Christmas season approaching, Jewel City Ministries is once again preparing for another special presentation – “Christmas At Jewel City Church” – that will be presented both on Friday, Dec. 14th at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, December 16th at 10 a.m. Music will be the focus of this program … “an incredible production that will relate the Christmas story and is sure to move everyone,” Pastor Shingleton said.
Carrie Hill, who has been the Music Director at Jewel City Church for the past 12 years, has coordinated the presentation. She added, “This year, our Christmas production will center on waking the wonder of Christmas inside each one who enters our doors. There is so much to distract us from what really matters most during this wonderful season, and this is going to be a time when we can just pause for a short time with our families and friends and be reminded of the hope that fills the air during this special time of year. We have been busy preparing an uplifting storytelling of the Christmas narrative that brings a strong message of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.”
Each year, Jewel City’s Christmas production is one-of-a-kind, but she noted that there are a few songs that are special favorites that will be repeated.
“One of those favorites is ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ that will be portrayed by seven-year old Rush Perine. Rush had heart surgery when he was just a baby, and it is amazing now to see how far he has come. That, too, is a demonstration of how prayers are answered and hope is delivered through faith,” she continued.
The production will also feature Jewel City’s live band and 45-member worship choir along with some members of WVU’s Percussion Studio and and Lincoln High School’s drum line. A string quartet from WVU will also be participating. Hill said that five members of Dave Reep’s ‘Brass, Rhythm & Sax Orchestra’ will take part as well.
“Instrumentation of all kinds – trumpets, guitars, basses, trombones, violins, percussion, keyboards – and actors – and even our children’s dance ministry will perform with our youth praise band … all of this will be combined within this presentation,” Carrie continued. “Lighting and visual effects will complement the experience to awaken the wonder of Christmas!”
The devoted participants have been rehearsing since the beginning of October to make it a special Christmas experience that the entire family will enjoy.
“One of my favorite Christmas memories has always been sitting on Christmas Eve and listening to a family member read the Christmas story. And that is essentially what we’ll be doing – retelling the Christmas story accompanied by music. We will also share some familiar carols and cherished holiday favorites as the story is told. It is our hope that our message will cause people of all ages to pause from the busyness of the season and take in the real wonder of the true Christmas story,” she concluded.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend ‘Christmas at Jewel City Church’ next weekend. Put aside your to-do lists and allow yourselves a little breathing time to sit and relax and reflect on the real reason for this season.