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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

FBC Huntsville incorporates Chrismon tree in programcomment (0)

December 17, 2009

By Martine G. Bates


The Chrismon tradition of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, dates back about 30 years. At least, that’s when the old Chrismons were made, according to Joy Moore, minister to preschool.

In the years since, the Madison Baptist Association church — led by Pastor David Hull — has added some of its own unique touches to the tradition developed by Frances Kipps Spencer in the 1950s.

It was about eight to 10 years ago that Associate Pastor Tim Brock approached Glenn Brown, co-chair of the church’s aesthetics committee, about the old Chrismons. The tradition was something Brock’s former church had observed, and he thought it would be a good idea to resurrect it at First, Huntsville.

“We decided that we would use [the Chrismons] as a teaching point,” Brown said.

So Brock’s sister, who attended a church in Arab that included Chrismons in its Christmas celebration, was enlisted to conduct a series of three workshops on Sunday nights.

“She talked about the tradition of Chrismons and taught the participants how to make them. She showed some techniques like embossing the monograms and beading, and people left the workshops with finished Chrismons,” Brown said.

Workshop participants could keep the ornaments or donate them to First, Huntsville, and many chose to donate them for the church Chrismon tree.

Since then, the church has continued to refine its Chrismon tradition. Chrismons are made by all ages, from elementary schoolchildren to great-grandmothers, according to Brown. “It’s been good to see the different generations brought together, senior adults helping children and vice versa,” he said.

Moore had the idea of expanding Chrismon-making to include the children of the church, as “understanding what the symbols represent makes them more meaningful.”

She also had pictures of the ornaments made and compiled a book that is kept near the tree in the sanctuary. The suggestion to do so came from Spencer, who urged that the ornaments be used for a personal worship focus.

The tree has become a part of the Hanging of the Green service each year during the Advent season and a part of The Living Christmas Tree, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Lately Brown has noticed that families of the church have begun making the tree a part of their own traditions.

“A lot of family Christmas pictures are made around the tree,” he said, adding that some people have asked if they could place Chrismon on the tree in memory of a loved one. “I hadn’t thought of that before and I’m grateful for it. That’s one more thing the tree can be used for.”

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