Area churches celebrate holidays

Those hoping to celebrate the Christmas season through worship have a wide range of church services to choose from during the holidays.

For those who enjoy music during their Christmas services, New Vision Church of Conover offers two Christmas Eve services with plenty to sing about.

"We're going to sing a lot of carols and have a lot of songs," said the Rev. Ann Aichinger of New Vision. "Basically, it's a very simple, beautiful service."

This is the second year of Christmas celebrations for New Vision Church, which is located at 502 Thornburg Drive. Services will be held at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and will include music, singing and candlelight. The church will provide glow sticks to ensure the safety of young children and those hesitant to handle lighted candles.

The church will have a professionally staffed nursery during both services.

"We welcome anybody who is looking for a church family," Aichinger said.

The church features come-as-you-are services, where attendees aren't required to dress up.

Christmas carols sung during the service include "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World."

For those interested in making a donation to a local charity, St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Claremont offers a Christmas Eve service with canned food collection for Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry.

The church welcomes donations of food, clothing and money for needy families in Catawba County. Items in short supply at ECCCM include peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti noodles and canned meat and milk.

This food collection, however, isn't something St. Mark's participates in only at Christmas time.

"It's an ongoing thing," said Emma Davis, St. Mark's parish administrator.

Davis said the church will hold two Christmas Eve services Friday at 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The services will include traditional candlelight, as well as holy communion.

There will be a musical prelude starting at 10 p.m. before the 10:30 p.m. worship service.

Another church holding a food drive during Christmas services is Old St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Newton. Like St. Mark's in Claremont, Old St. Paul's will collect food for ECCCM during the church's Ton of Food Drive. The drive continues through Christmas.

Old St. Paul's will have two Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. with music and holy communion.

Several area churches also offer Christmas plays or other child-friendly services for families with small children.

Victory Baptist Church in Hickory will hold its Christmas play, called "The Ultimate Sacrifice," on Thursday at 7 p.m. After the play, treat bags will be distributed, and all are welcome to attend.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church will present its Christmas pageant for children at 5 p.m. During the pageant, all children participate in the re-telling of the Christmas story. The pageant will be held Dec. 24 at 5 p.m.

Additional Christmas services include:

Christmas Eve candlelight service at Beth Eden Lutheran Church at 10:30 p.m.

Christmas Eve service at Catawba United Methodist Church at 6 p.m.

Christmas Eve services at First Presbyterian Church at 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Christmas Day service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church at 10:30 a.m.

Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. and Christmas Day communion at 10 a.m. at Mount Olive Lutheran Church.