By Ellen Coyle and Andy Reed
From the first pealing of the bells on Christmas Eve, the spirit of giving and sharing was evidence of the All Saints’ family in action. From the 3:00 p.m. to the 10:00 p.m. services and the formal dinner in between more than 100 volunteers joined to make our Christmas one to remember. Beginning with the transportation, steward, and security teams, the decorating committee, the Altar Guild, the Acolytes, Vergers, and Worship Committee, Chef Bruce’s team, our fabulous musicians and musical directors, and our church staff, all worked together to make Christmas a grand celebration of His Birth.
At the 3:00 p.m. service, families gathered in our beautiful nave with their children to celebrate the coming of the Lord and to worship together. The younger children sang sweet Christmas songs guided by their older counterparts in the Youth Ensemble. The call and response of Do You Hear What I Hear between the age groups was wonderful, and Maddie Parry’s solo in Happy Birthday Jesus was moving. Rev. Kathy Hulin engaged the children during the homily by having them unwrap the best Christmas present possible to receive: the baby Jesus. During communion, Gabrielle Memmoli sang a solo of The First Noel, and Caroline Mank and Emma Reed performed a beautiful duet of Christ, Be Our Light.
At 5:30 pm, Christmas carols and anthems continued with the All Saints’ Vocal Ensemble led by Kevin Townsend, featuring David Kleine and Andy Reed, with guest singers Ashley Massey and Emily Backes. Kevin played piano, and Jay Geary played bass, along with guest drummer Leon Logue. The service was more intimate and Jesus’ birth was celebrated through gospel, contemporary, and traditional hymns, reflecting the range of awe, wonder, and joy felt by the congregation as they prepared for a Christmas Eucharist.
That mood of reverence continued during the 6:00 p.m. service led by Fr. Reid Hensarling. After a moving solo by Ashley Massey proclaiming the name Jesus, Fr. Reid’s sermon emphasized the miraculous, awe-inspiring impossibility of what God accomplished through the birth of Christ. Later, Rev. Kathy Hulin’s chanting of the Eucharistic prayers further elevated the communion portion of the service, followed by a breathtaking a capella solo sung by Emily Backes while parishioners, families, and guests partook of Christ’s body. The service concluded with a moving congregational singing of Silent Night.
Adding to that spiritual feast, our Church Chef Bruce Tuttle, served a delicious steak dinner to at least 120 or more parishioners in the festive Woodsby Hall between the 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. services. 6:00 p.m. worshipers were able to finish their evening with family and congregational fellowship, while 10:00 p.m. worshipers were able to prepare for a marvelous evening of celebration.
At 9:30 p.m. the All Saints’ Choir, Clarion Brass and guest musicians, Greg Sale, Tenor, Jane Sholine on French Horn, Kimberly Milton, soprano and our organist Martha Bunday, all led to an inspired singing of traditional carols by the congregation.
The 10:00 p.m. service led by our Rector the Rev. Reid Hensarling, assisted by Director of Family and Women’s Ministries, the Rev. Kathy Hulin, celebrated a glorious Holy Eucharist all for the glory of God whose Birth we celebrate. In the center of all the beauty, Fr. Reid riveted our attention on the great power and love of God, the creator of the Universe, as He became one of us through the womb of Mary in a lowly manger surrounded by animals, glorified by angels, and visited by simple shepherds. His wish for all was that we would experience the presence of God in our hearts and in our lives.
Again the choir, as with the angels, sang to honor Christ Jesus. Within them, former choir director Kris Ridgley returned to lift us as he sang the Psalm as the night’s Cantor. Christina and Greg Sale’s voices soared in O Holy Night and Kimberly Milton, who grew up at All Saints’, brought tears to many eyes with her intensely moving Lord’s Prayer.
Beginning and ending with the peal of the bells, Christmas was celebrated at All Saints’ with style and grace, devotion and cooperation by all who offered their talent and time to a full church to proclaim this powerful message: Christ is Born!
On Christmas morning at 10:00 a.m. the Rev. Kathy Hulin greeted us for a quiet and tender yet celebratory service. A highlight was a musical offertory by Dr. Charles Hulin at the piano and Gene Hodges at the organ called A Gospel Peace. Ranging from explosive phrases to hauntingly tender ones, the lyrical lines included Christmas carols familiar yet new to all of us. It was a treat to those who honored the Birth of Christ once more on Christmas Day.