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FBC Jasper class promotes ‘Merry Christmas’ in citycomment (0)

December 7, 2006

By Sondra Washington

Will people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” in your town this year? Thanks to one 15-member, Alabama Baptist senior adult Sunday School class, many Jasper businesses and residents are “putting Christ back in Christmas.”
When some members of First Baptist Church, Jasper, in Walker Baptist Association noticed that Jesus’ birth and the word “Christmas” were not included in the city’s decorations last year, they decided to do something about it.
“Everything in the city was ‘Happy Holidays’ including advertisements and the holiday tree, and this is true everywhere, not just in Jasper,” said Nan Nichols, class outreach leader. “We decided last year at Christmastime that putting Christ back into Christmas would be our project. It was important to us because Christ was left out of Christmas, and that’s what Christmas is all about.”
First, the class received permission from Mayor Sonny Posey and the Jasper City Council to place a nativity scene in the city square in front of the Walker County Courthouse. Then a couple from the church volunteered to hand cut and hand paint about 15 life-size nativity characters, which were presented to the community Dec. 1 in a “lighting of the nativity scene” program. For 30 minutes, Jasper-area residents joined Posey and local churches in praying, singing Christmas carols and listening to the Christmas story.
City Council President Johnny Rollins said it seems that “our country is trying to secularize Christmas.” 
“It’s time to stand up for our Lord, Jesus Christ, and be counted,” he said. “That’s what the Sunday School class has done. They decided to make a stand, and they should be commended for their efforts.”
The First, Jasper, class, however, did not stop there.
While the nativity scene was being made, the group received permission from the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County to send a letter to its members encouraging them to use “Merry Christmas” in their decorations.
“It’s a universal drive right now to keep Christmas as it’s intended to be, and we’ve encouraged our business community to keep Christmas in their decorations …,” said Linda Lewis, executive vice president of the chamber. 
“It wasn’t hard for me to buy into that plan when they asked me to join in. No matter what denomination you are, you should remember what Christmas is all about.”
The Sunday School class also sold at cost about 1,750 yard signs, which say, “Wishing you love and joy as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Merry Christmas.” In addition, the class sold nine billboards around the city to First, Jasper, and other area churches. Each billboard reads, “Jesus Christ, the Lord,” and includes a manger scene and Merry Christmas greeting from the church that purchased it.
“The Lord has blessed this project greatly,” Nichols said. “Everything has gone so well.”
First, Jasper, Pastor Tom Whitsett is proud of his members’ efforts and said the church is trying to help them promote their cause.
“The marketing of Christmas has almost left out the real meaning of Christmas — the birth of Christ,” he said. 
“It has almost gotten to the point where the real meaning of Christmas is ignored or overlooked. We are just trying to emphasize that the coming of Christ is the central theme of Christmas.”

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