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Churches offer many services for Christmas

Dec 22, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

With Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, some churches in Fremont County are turning their regular weekly services into holiday celebrations.

Church of Christ, 39 Gas Hills Road in Riverton, will tailor its normal 9 a.m. Sunday worship service to focus on the birth of Christ this weekend, with Christmas carols included.

A group of children will put on a musical presentation at 10 a.m. Sunday at Neighborhood Alliance Church, 4440 Riverview Road in Riverton.

"Join us as we hear the Christmas story, told from the perspective of the stars, who have been hanging around the heavens anxiously awaiting the birth of the promised Savior," organizer Nikki Tippets said.

In Lander, those who visit Trinity Episcopal Church, 860 S. Third St., at 9:30 a.m. Sunday will sing Christmas carols and enjoy Holy Eucharist, followed by cookies and cider.

Word of Faith Family Church, 515 S. Second St. in Lander, also meets at 9:30 a.m. The Christmas Eve service features carols and candles.

Services start at 10 a.m. Sunday at Grace Bible Church, 1290 E. Main St. in Lander, with lunch afterward. Pastor Tim Senter will read the Christmas story and scriptures, plus give a message about the historic events leading up to the birth of Christ, including the ramifications of first-century attitudes on marriage.

"We talk about it directly in the context of the times so people have an appreciation of what those individuals were going through," he said.

Doubling up

Other area churches are doubling up Sunday, with a morning and an evening service scheduled to celebrate Christmas Eve.

The message during the 10:15 a.m. Sunday gathering at First Baptist Church, 840 N. First St. in Riverton, is called "Christmas faith."

"That's a dialogue sermon," pastor Rex Whitman said. "It's a conversation between a skeptic and a believer."

Whitman will play the part of the believer, while his assistant pastor is the skeptic.

At 6 p.m. Sunday First Baptist will do a candlelight service "with a twist." When the congregation processes outside after the service singing Silent Night, Whitman said they will have the opportunity to launch a Chinese lantern with a partner.

"It usually takes about two people to launch them - one to hold it and one to light it," Whitman said.

Pastor Dale Adams at Lighthouse Bible Church, 1510 Lewis St. in Riverton, will deliver a message on the birth of Christ at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by a special service with songs and scriptures about the birth of Christ at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 419 E. Park Ave. in Riverton, will host two services Sunday, too: one at 10 a.m., with a candlelight service at 7 p.m.

The two services Sunday at St. John Lutheran Church, 606 N. Eighth St. W. in Riverton, both will follow the same program, with one beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m. Pastor Bonita Knox said each service will feature a reading and the proclamation of the birth of Christ.

"That's always special to hear," she said. "It's kind of a historical narrative (about) when Jesus was born - who was in power. ... It's beautiful."

Then congregants will sing Christmas hymns and light candles while reading John 1: 1-14.

Knox said the candle lighting is particularly poignant during the evening service.

"The light has gone, (and so) as the candles are lit we ... spiritually and physically see the light among us - the light of God, the word made flesh," she said. "Then we sing Silent Night."

In Lander, the United Methodist Church, 263 N. Third St., will celebrate Christmas Eve at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday.

The pastor at Lander Valley Baptist Church, 790 S. Ninth St., will talk about the birth of Christ during the first service of the day, at 10:55 a.m. Sunday. Then at 5 p.m. the church will host a special Lord's Supper with families, featuring music by local artists.

Christmas Eve

Most congregations in Fremont County will forego the normal Sunday morning service this weekend in favor of an evening celebration of Christmas Eve.

Hillcrest Baptist Church, 1002 W. Main St. in Riverton, will have a candlelight service at 5 p.m. Sunday with music and a reading of the Christmas story.

The evening service is at 7 p.m. Sunday at St. James Episcopal Church, 519 E. Park Ave. in Riverton. The event features candle lighting and a nativity.

St. Margaret's Catholic Church, 622 E. Park Ave. in Riverton, has two evening services planned Sunday. The first is a children's mass that begins at 5 p.m. Students will participate by singing and presenting the gifts. And at midnight, there will be a mass to ring in the birth of Jesus, with carols and candlelight.

United Baptist Church, 1201 E. Pershing Ave. in Riverton, has a Christmas Eve candlelight service 6-7 p.m. Sunday.

The community is invited to Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at United Methodist Church, 1116 W. Park Ave. in Riverton. Both services are family oriented, including carols, readings by youth and adults, candle lighting and a brief message from pastor Deb Olenyik titled, "Come Let Us Adore Him." Casual dress is welcome.

The Wind River Catholic Community involves three churches on the Wind River Indian Reservation, all of which have Christmas Eve services planned. At 5 p.m. Sunday there will be a Christmas children's pageant and mass followed by hot chocolate at cookies at St. Joseph's in Ethete, at 8 p.m. Sunday there will be a Christmas Eve mass followed by coffee and treats at Blessed Sacrament in Fort Washakie, and at 11:30 p.m. Sunday there will be Christmas carols before a midnight mass followed hot cocoa and cookies at the St. Stephen's Mission.

In Kinnear the Sunnyside Nazarene church will host a short service at 6 p.m., with Christmas carols and a message from the interim pastor.

Pavillion Community United Methodist Church, 307 N. Main St., will have a candlelight service at 6 p.m., in cooperation with the neighboring Southern Baptist Church for the second year in a row.

"They're coming over to our place," pastor Matthew White said. "It's just wonderful having the two faiths come together for an evening. ... We're friends - why not worship together."

The Baptists will bring along a harp player, and all of the congregants will sing Christmas carols.

In Lander, Living Water Fellowship, 150 Baldwin Creek Road, has a Christmas Eve candlelight service at 5 p.m. Sunday, with special speakers and music.

First Baptist Church of Lander, 339 Sweetwater St., has a Christmas Eve service is at 6:30 p.m.

Bethel Lutheran Church, 626 Shoshone St. in Lander, has a Christmas Eve candlelight service celebrating the birth of Christ at 7 p.m.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, 875 Fremont St. in Lander, invites the community to a candlelight worship service at 7 p.m. featuring scripture and singing. At the end of the evening, everyone sings Silent Night and lights the candles.

Faith Lutheran Church, 1600 Sinks Canyon Road in Lander, has its Christmas Eve candlelight service at 7 p.m., too.

Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 163 Leedy Drive in Lander, has two services to offer: a children's vigil mass at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and a midnight mass.

Christmas Day

There also are several special events planned for Christmas Day, though many area churches are taking Dec. 25 off.

St. Margaret's Catholic Church, 622 E. Park Ave. in Riverton, has a traditional Christmas Day mass at 10 a.m. Monday to celebrate the holiday.

The priests at St. Margaret's also conduct services at other Catholic churches throughout the county, including St. Edward's in Kinnear, which will have a Christmas Day mass at 11 a.m.; St. Joseph's in Shoshoni, which will have a Christmas Day mass at noon; and Our Lady of the Woods in Dubois, which will have a Christmas Day mass at 4 p.m. Monday.

The Christmas Day service at Trinity Lutheran Church, 419 E. Park Ave. in Riverton, is at 10 a.m.

In St. Stephen's, the Catholic community has a 9 a.m. mass celebrating Christmas Day Monday; the church also celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen with a mass at 9 a.m. Tuesday followed by sleigh rides, hot cocoa and treats.

St. Joseph's in Ethete has a mass at 11 a.m. Monday.

Pavillion Community United Methodist Church, 307 N. Main St., will have a Christmas Day service at 11 a.m. Monday followed by a meal at 1 p.m.

In Lander, Bethel Lutheran Church, 626 Shoshone St., has its Christmas Day service at 9:30 a.m., and the mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 163 Leedy Drive, is at 10:30 a.m.

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