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Christmas carols and performances livened the Advent season for nine parishes

February 2020
Christmas carols and performances livened the Advent season for nine parishes

 

Sparkling umbrellas are gathered to lead the twilight procession at the Ecumenical Christmas celebration on December 29, 2019. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

The Mar Thoma Church Atlanta (MTCA), located at 6015 Old Stone Mountain Road, Stone Mountain, GA, welcomed the Advent Season on Saturday, December 21, 2019 with its first Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols held in this location. MTCA, formed by the merger of Atlanta Marthoma Church, Stone Mountain, and Hermon Mar Thoma Church, Lawrenceville, consists of over 200 families in the metro Atlanta area.

The Mar Thoma Church, a reformed Indian church, traces its roots to 52 AD when St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Christ, sailed to Southern India to spread the Christian faith.

 

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(​Right) The orchestra.

The orchestra began the service by playing a medley of Christmas carols, “The story of Christmas.” Then as “O Come All ye Faithful” was sung, members of the Malayalam and English choirs walked to the front of the sanctuary in a procession. The opening prayer by Rev. Skariah Varughese was followed by a welcome address by the Vice President, Ms. Anita Ninan. The church vicar, Rev. Aju Abraham, gave the presidential address and invited chief guest, Rev. Art Stansberry, Pastor of MC3 Church of Stone Mountain, to give the Christmas message—MC3 Church was formerly Mount Carmel Christian Church, which used to meet at this very location.

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The choir in the sanctuary.

Singing in the choir.

The service was interspersed with beautiful Christmas carols in Malayalam and English, conducted by the Malayalam choir master, Mr. Santhosh Abraham and English choir master, Mr. Abraham Ninan, respectively, with Bible readings in English and Malayalam. The service concluded with the full Choir holding candles and singing “Silent Night.”

Caroling, dances, and the Nativity play followed, performed by various organizations of the parish, including The Young Family Fellowship, Senior Citizens Fellowship, and Sunday School.

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Sparkling umbrellas are gathered to lead the twilight procession at the Ecumenical Christmas celebration on December 29, 2019. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

An even larger Christmas program was held in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday, December 29, when the Malayalee Ecumenical Christian Fellowship of Atlanta (MECFA), led by officers Rev. Aju Abraham, Santosh George, and Babu Cherian, invited the community to its 2019 Ecumenical Christmas Program with nine congregations participating:
• St. Mary’s Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church
• St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church
• Holy Family Knanaya Catholic Church
• St. Thomas Orthodox Church Atlanta
• St. Thomas Evangelical Church
• St. Mary’s Orthodox Church Atlanta
• St. Alphonsa Catholic Church
• Emmanuel CSI Congregation
• The Mar Thoma Church Atlanta

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(Left) Dhol to liven the night. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

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A festive paper star. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

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Sparkling parasols led the twilight procession to the festivities, reminiscent of the Holy Family traveling to Bethlehem. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

After gathering at the flagpole at 6pm, a grand procession led by dignitaries under sparkling parasols walked from the gathering winter darkness into the festively decorated hall, to the beat of huge drums.

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(Left) Priests with a cross on a lamp, derived from the traditional Hindu lamp. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

Each parish gave performances, either singing, dancing, or acting in skits, and the many congregants had the opportunity to mingle at the concluding dinner.

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The littlest Holy Family.

Actors in one of the Christmas skits: the Holy Family. (Photo: Suzanne Sen)

(Photos below: Suzanne Sen)

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