| Lauren LeBel
AGAWAM – For the 46th year, Bethany Assembly of God, at 580 Main St., will bring back the Singing Christmas Tree, but this year’s has a twist. The musical program will be supplemented with a more substantial dramatic presentation, the “Wonder of Christmas.”
The musical production will take place on the weekend of Dec. 10-12, with showtimes at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and both 3 and 6 p.m. Sunday. During the Dec. 11 show, there will be an American sign language interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Worship Pastor Camellia Matthes said the Singing Christmas Tree is exactly what it sounds like – a “steel structure in the shape of a Christmas tree,” with room for choir members to stand as ornaments as they perform.
Along with Bethany’s choir, Matthes said the performance features a complete orchestra. To strengthen this year’s show, Matthes said the “drama aspect” will be increased. Although they have incorporated some drama into past performances, she said that this year there will be more speaking roles.
The choir, orchestra and drama cast are all members of Bethany Assembly of God. Matthes said the entire production includes about 100 people.
For Matthes, her role includes “making sure the pieces are together.” She said that the orchestra has had weekly rehearsals, along with the choir, which has been practicing for months. Matthes is also responsible for coordinating the dramatic portion of the show and making sure that all goes smoothly.
While the show is free to the public, Bethany will accept a free-will offering at all shows. Matthes said that raising funds through the Singing Christmas Tree is something that the church does every year to support its mission work in Central and South?America.
She went on to say that the organization the church is partnering with this year is Child Hope, in the Caribbean nation of Haiti. According to its website, Child Hope’s mission is to “minister to orphans and widows in their distress by transitioning children from orphanages into loving families.” This is done through “Christ-centered care, training and social work,” continued their website. Child Hope’s vision is to have no more orphans in Haiti.
Oftentimes, Matthes said, they lean to “organizations with our churches of fellowship.”
For this year in particular, Matthes said, “[It’s an] ministry that we wanted to support and it’s an opportunity to share our faith.”
Matthes said the performances have raised approximately $285,000 in previous years, and the church hopes to meet a similar goal this year.
While the Singing Christmas Tree did not take place last year, the church did have an alternative event.
“Last year we pivoted,” said Matthes. “We had a drive-through event and decorated the church.” She added that people were able to listen to the audio of a story as they drove around the church.
For this year’s production, there are no COVID-19 restrictions on attendance, nor will there be any advance ticket sales. Bethany’s building capacity is 650 people per performance, and admission will be on a first-come basis.
For additional information on the Singing Christmas Tree and the Wonder of Christmas production, visit bethanyassemblyofgod.churchcenter.com/home.