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Churches mark Christmas Eve with candlelight services
The Advent candles are placed at the front of the sanctuary at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. The white candle in the center will be lit during the church’s Christmas Eve service.

As Christmas is five days away, Gainesville residents may seek to celebrate Jesus’ birth at one of the many Christmas Eve services the city has to offer.

And a common element among many churches is at least one service conducted by candlelight.

Candlelight services date back to the first century and developed into the tradition celebrated today, said Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Gainesville.

He added his church’s candlelight service is a favorite.

“The end of the night is to me, the most beautiful sight in the world,” he said. “We sing silent night and end with all the lights off. The candles glowing and everyone is lifting theirs high; it’s just breath-taking.”

Before the final hymn, Coates said “young and old gather” in the sanctuary to hear several Scripture readings and sing Christmas carols.

And the church will have “a very brief Christmas meditation,” he said.

First Baptist Church will have its candlelight service at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in its sanctuary at 751 Green St. NW in Gainesville.

For more information, call 770-534-7354.

More Christmas Eve services include:

  • Gainesville First United Methodist Church: noon-1 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Great Room; and 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. in the sanctuary. All four evening services will have communion and candlelight. 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-536-2341
  • Gainesville First Presbyterian: 1:30-2:30 p.m. children’s service, 5-6 p.m. candlelight lesson and carols, and 11 p.m. to midnight candlelight communion. 800 S. Enota Drive, Gainesville.
  • Grace Episcopal Church: 4 p.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II with choristers and 11 p.m. Festival Holy Eucharist. Corner of Washington Street and Boulevard in Gainesville. 770-532-0136
  • Lakewood Baptist Church: 5 p.m. communion and baptism service; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Family Lord’s Supper; and 11:30 p.m. candlelight service. 2235 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville. 770-532-6307
  • Prince of Peace Catholic Church: 3 p.m. children’s Mass, 5:30 p.m. contemporary choir, 7:30 p.m. Spanish Mass, 9:30 p.m. lifeteen band and 11:30 p.m. Midnight Mass. 6439 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch. 770-945-2244
  • St. Michael Catholic Church: 9 a.m. Holy Mass in English; 5 p.m. Christmas carols; 6 p.m. family Mass in English; 9 p.m. Holy Mass in Spanish; 11:30 p.m. Christmas carols; and midnight Holy Mass in English. 1440 Pearce Circle, Gainesville. 770-534-3338.
  • Redwine United Methodist Church: 6 p.m. Christmas Eve candlelight service. 3285 Poplar Springs Road, Gainesville. 770-536-5164.
  • Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church: 8 p.m. Christmas Eve service. 439 S. Park St., Dahlonega. 706-864-0661.
  • Good Shepard Lutheran Church: 7 and 10 p.m. Christmas Eve services. 600 S. Enota Drive, Gainesville. 770-532-2428.
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