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Baptist church holds gospel Christmas concert for all to see

POSTED: December 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Choir sings his praises

St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville presents the Christmas concert, "Go Tell it on the Mountain," at the Georgia Mountains Center.

SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Paris Samuel, 4, sings along with the St. John Baptist Church Children's Choir on Sunday evening at the Georgia Mountains Center during the church's presentation "Go Tell it on the Mountain," a citywide celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

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St. John Baptist Church choirs celebrated the Christmas season Sunday night with soul-stirring versions of holiday carols and other tunes in an event dubbed as "a citywide celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ."

"Tonight, we want to share a piece of who we are, with you, our community," said St. John’s senior pastor and teacher, Stephen P. Samuel. "This is the St. John Baptist Church gift to Gainesville."

The church at 757 E.E. Butler Parkway presented "Go Tell it on the Mountain," its first gospel Christmas concert held at the Georgia Mountains Center.

The free event featured several choirs, special musical guests and the church’s dance ministry.

Samuel said he saw the event as an opportunity to bring people together from all cultures, backgrounds and walks of life.

The church sought to "bring together (its) entire music ministry ... to reach beyond our walls and bring this city together for a united celebration of the Christmas season," he said.

Marvin Williams of Rome got the event started singing from a keyboard near the stage.

Then, St. John choir members, wearing bright red shirts and black pants, filled the stage of the Mountains Center’s arena for the opening processional, "Walk in the Light."

As part of the performance, singers filed in from the darkened back part of the arena to the brightly lighted stage, which featured a tall, glittering Christmas tree and shiny wrapped presents.

"First of all, I want somebody to stand on your feet and praise God because he is so good," said worship leader Detrick Miller. "... We just ask that you let go and let God have his way in this place."

There was no lack of audience participation in the event. Many people sang and swayed with the music, as well as clapping or raising their hands.

"Lift your voice with us," Miller said. "And if you don’t, we’re going to sing anyway."

The children’s choir then sang several songs, including "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child" and "Joy to the World."

"We welcome you to this place that we are going to turn into a sanctuary for God," Samuel said.

"In a moment in time when so many things are going wrong in our society, we want to let Gainesville know that St. John Baptist Church believes that Jesus Christ is worth celebrating; he’s worth lifting up; and he’s worth being praised on tonight."

The choirs sang several traditional carols, including, "Silent Night" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and ended the event with "Celebrate."



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