link Joshua Lucero: Staff photo
First Presbyterian Church Christmas Eve Candle-Light Service organizer Gracy Stone directs volunteers and church members as they practice their readings Monday evening. First Presbyterian Church member Bob Taylor said the church has held the candle-light service for more than 50 years in Portales.
With Christmas Eve fast approaching, First Presbyterian Church is gearing up for their annual Christmas Eve Candle-Light Service.
The Christmas Eve service has been a church tradition for more than 50 years, according to church member Bob Taylor.
Taylor said he’s been helping with the Candle-Light service since he started attending the church more than 45 years ago.
The tradition includes singing from local choir members, scripture readings, and other displays of talent that community members want to share to bring in Christmas day.
The church is lit by candlelight for the service and each attendee receives a candle at the end of the service to symbolize sharing the light of Jesus.
“It’s basically a service full of song and rejoicing that the savior has been born,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the service is the only time of year that the church lights all of the candles in the church’s two candle-filled chandeliers and wall-mounted candelabras.
Service organizer Gracy Stone said volunteers and church members spend the week before Christmas rehearsing readings and songs in preparation for the Christmas Eve service.
Stone said the church has had large programs during the service before, but this year she has scaled it down to provide a serene atmosphere.
She said the service offers people a moment of solemn reflection before Christmas day begins.
“It’s a gift from the church to the community,” Stone said.
She said the hour-long service is open to anyone and hopes to fill the pews with more than 75 people.
Stone said last year’s service drew about 100 visitors.
“It gives me joy to be involved in my church and the community,” Stone said.
Stone said the church has ordered 100 candles to give out after the service.
Singer Orlando Shelly, 25, said he has been volunteering to sing during the program for four years and enjoys being part of a long-standing community tradition.
“I love the idea of having a mass that ends perfectly with Jesus’ birth,” Shelly said. “The whole service is the telling of Jesus’ story and when it ends at midnight it’s Christmas.”
Shelly, who currently lives in Louisiana, said he wanted to participate in the service while he was in town for the holidays.
“It’s awesome to be part of a tradition that’s been in our community for so long,” Shelly said of his participation in the service.