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First Baptist Church sets up for Living Christmas Tree program

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — This is no ordinary Christmas tree.

Next week, a man-made tree will come alive with the singing of more than 100 choir members of First Baptist Church on Green Street during the church’s eighth annual Living Christmas Tree program.

Five performances of the program are scheduled throughout December. This year’s theme is "Look to the Light."

"The Bible says Jesus is the light of the world," said the Rev. Mark Green, minister of music. "The program is centered around that gospel story."

More than 100 church members will work this week to assemble the tree. On Sunday, the steel and wooden base were put up.

On Monday, a small group of men put up chicken wire, which will hold lights, greenery and other decorations for the tree.

The finished product is "absolutely awesome," said church member Gene Brooks, who is helping build the tree and will also perform in the program.

About 6,000 people are expected to attend this year.

"They come here by the bus load," Brooks said.

The approximately one-hour program features a mix of contemporary songs and traditional Christmas carols, such as "Joy to the World," accompanied by a 31-piece orchestra.

"It’s very exciting when you put it together," Green said.

Green said the performance always ends with the "Hallelujah Chorus" from George Handel’s "Messiah."

Adding to the visual element will be the five different colors of lights on the tree, which are choreographed with the music.

A cross outlined in white lights will appear on the front of the tree toward the end of the program. There will be a live manger scene on the stage, as well as a floor ensemble.

Green said his hope for the program is that "everyone will celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, which is the coming of Christ to be the light of the world."

The program "is our way of honoring God with the gift he has given us in Christ," Green said. "We want to offer it to the community as a gift."

In addition to the gospel message conveyed in the songs, Brooks hopes the music itself is inspiring to the audience.

"I hope they hear some of the best Christmas music they’ll ever hear," he said.



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