Children performing in the Christmas Bash.

Children performing in the Christmas Bash.

Josh Greenfield with a young participant in the Christmas Bash.

Josh Greenfield with a young participant in the Christmas Bash.

Josh Greenfield, Communications/Creative Arts Director, Gaines UB Church (Caledonia, Mich.)

The Gaines Church Christmas Bash originally began as a “Staff Open House” to wish our congregants a “Merry Christmas.” The staff provided delicious appetizers and a Christmas environment in a warmly lit space. Over the years, the event has grown, and merged with other events to form the “Gaines Church Christmas Bash.”

The event now consists of carol singing (100% by request from the audience), children’s mini-play, a few talent show-type performances,” young adult skits, and memories of the previous year. Three chocolate fountains provide dessert which delight nearly every attendee and guest. Lemon-spiked water, coffee, hot tea, and iced tea wash down the desserts and veggies everyone gorges on.

For years, events were ministry-specific and scattered about. Now, the Gaines Church Christmas Bash draws a crowd 25% larger than our total weekend service attendance, most of which are family and friends thanks to the kid/family emphasis. The event has grown exponentially, and with over 280 people this year, it is sure to continue as one of those events that “work” at drawing a crowd.

From the variety acts, to the massive declarative singing of “O Holy Night,” to the concluding singing (or slaughtering) of “The Hallelujah Chorus,” truth is present and celebrated in this Christmas event.

Adam Will reports that his father-in-law, Rocky Layne, is out of ICU, and is alert and talking. Rocky, pastor of two UB churches in southern Ohio, was in a four-wheeler accident on December 29 and had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain.

Adam writes, “The swelling in his brain continues to go down, and now we wait and see how soon he can recover.” While Rocky recovers, Adam will fill in at West Pleasant Hill UB church in Rockbridge, Ohio.

Pastor Layne can be contacted at:

Allen Rocky Layne
5868 Pen Rd.
Junction City, OH 43748

7:55 pm update: Rev. Al Carter, pastor of First UB in Columbus, Ohio, wrote: “Rev. Allen Rocky Layne continues to recover at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. He expresses gratitude for the prayers on behalf of him and his family. He is speaking to all who enter his room. He has made it clear to everyone in the hospital that he will be presenting them to God for a blessing for all they have done for him. There are many miraculous things that have happened to this point in his recovery. I will not steal his thunder, but let him relate it to you as he improves.”

Linda Carter (right), wife of Al Carter, senior pastor of First UB Church (Columbus, Ohio), suffered a mild stroke on December 26, 2012. At the time, they were visiting relatives in Hillsdale, Mich. She woke up with speech and balance problems, and went to the local hospital to be checked out.

Linda was discharged from the hospital the next day, and they are now back in Columbus. Al reports that Linda is bouncing back well and getting stronger. While in Hillsdale, they met and were ministered to by several people from New Hope UB church in nearby Camden, Mich.

Linda’s address is:¬†711 Westfall Court,¬†Columbus OH 43228.

The annual reports for the year 2013 will be mailed to all UB ministers and churches the first week of January. They are due back at the bishop’s office by February 15, 2014. Completed reports are a basic requirement of all ministers. All reports can be downloaded at the UB website, and most can be filled out online.

At Coventry Meadows.

At Coventry Meadows.

Pastor Tim Hallman of Anchor (right) and Dr. Crystal Bush, pastor of New Zion Tabernacle (left), with the combined worship team behind them.

Pastor Tim Hallman of Anchor (right) and Dr. Crystal Bush, pastor of New Zion Tabernacle (left), with the combined worship team behind them.

Christmas presents for Anchor.

Christmas presents for Anchor.

The Christmas season included three special events for Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).

December 9. Anchor took its annual Christmas party to the Coventry Meadows nursing home–food, music, caroling down the halls, and pictures with Santa. (In 2011, Anchor held its Christmas party at the Charis House home for homeless women.) (See Facebook photo album.)

December 23, morning. Every year, a Christmas tree appears in the lobby with several hundred small ornaments, each bearing the name of an everyday item Anchor needs–cleaning supplies, lightbulbs, batteries, photocopier paper, kitchen items, coffee, etc. Attenders take an ornament or two, buy the items, wrap them up, and bring them back to Anchor. Then they are opened together. On December 23, after a short children’s program, the Anchor children passed out the gifts to adults in the congregation, who opened the gifts. This not only provides much-needed supplies for the church (and eases the budget), but gives even casual attenders a way to make a low-cost investment in the church. (See Facebook photo album.)

December 23, afternoon. Anchor held a joint Christmas service with New Zion Tabernacle, a predominantly African-American church located a couple blocks away. The two worship teams practiced together for three weeks prior to the afternoon service. Each team did a few songs separately, and then two songs together. The service was held at New Zion Tabernacle. (See Facebook photo album.)