Church marks Advent with Hanging of the Greens

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Classie West first saw a Hanging of the Greens service at First Baptist Church on Greene Street when she was a child.

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Willie Mae Peterson sets up candles and hangs greens at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta.    MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Willie Mae Peterson sets up candles and hangs greens at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta.

The beauty and regalia of the special Advent service stayed with her, and now that she’s retired she creates that special event for the members of Tabernacle Baptist Church.

The church has had some form of Advent service for the past 67 years. Typically, it involved simple decorations, a cantata and lighting candles.

“It was just a beautiful sight, and to hear the sounds of Christmas,” West said.

In those days, Tabernacle was the only black church in Augusta to hold a candlelight communion, which was part of the service, she said.

Now, as chairwoman of the church’s beautification team, West feels that organizing the service is part of her worship.

“It’s one of the most meaningful services we have in our church,” she said. “Just like the wise men brought their gifts to the baby, we bring and kneel and honor the baby with our gifts: love, creativity and service.”

The service will begin with the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. Then, the congregation will sing while garlands of evergreen, which symbolize everlasting life, are hung underneath the balcony.

As the service progresses, greenery will be hung on the windows, wreaths will be placed over the baptismal and on all the doors, and a Christmas tree will be decorated.

Then, festive banners will be hung and children will bring in poinsettias to be placed around the sanctuary.

“At the very end, when the pastor sits in the pulpit and reads the Christmas story to the children, we’ll have the procession of the candles. (Candleholders) will stand on either side of him as he reads the story to the children,” West said.

The Hanging of the Greens is Tabernacle’s largest Advent event, but other events include a live Nativity and door-to-door caroling.

The public is invited to attend the service at 6 p.m. Monday. Fellowship will follow.

“This is what we enjoy most,” West said. “It is our gift, as we anticipate (Christ’s) coming.”


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