Chapel Hill: Community

On Faith: Joyful services abound at the Christmas season

By Flo Johnston

Advent, the season in the Christian calendar of waiting and readying to mark the time when God did the unexpected and reached into the world with the gift of a Christ child, is nearing its end.

Christians believe this God-man was born with marching orders from His heavenly Father, accounting for His life, death and resurrection, the heart and soul of what being a follower is all about.

For Christians, Christmas is a time of joyous celebration and gratitude and Christmas Eve services with tradition at their core are in abundance in the Triangle. All are welcome to these services.

▪ At University Presbyterian Church, 209 E. Franklin St., the first of three services will begin at 4 p.m. This is planned as family worship and will include children, youth, parents, grandparents and any others who prefer an afternoon service with a less formal approach to worship. The lively ringing of bells will set the mood.

A more traditional candlelight service will be held at 7 p.m. during which music will be led by the youth choir. A candlelight and Communion service will be held at 11 p.m. with music led by the Chancel Choir. Communion will be served by intinction. That means dipping the host (bread) in the wine or grape juice and then imbibing.

▪ Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Road in Durham, will mark Christmas Eve with a pageant at 5 p.m. titled “Would You Like to Hold the Baby.”

The service at 7:30 p.m. will include readings from Matthew and Luke, as well as modern reflections and carols with a choir and jazz ensemble. Both these services will end with passing the candlelight from person to person and singing “Silent Night.”

On Sunday, Dec. 27, the 10:30 a.m. service will explore the seven principles of Kwanzaa along with Unitarian Universalist principles. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday honoring the ancestry of African Americans.

▪ Unity Center of Peace, 8800 Seawell School Road in Chapel Hill, will have a 7 p.m. service of joyous spiritual connection and celebration.

The evening will include readings of verses to inspire awareness of the Divine interspersed with songs of the season. The service will close with a candle lighting ceremony.

Unity Center is an interfaith and New Thought spiritual community that hopes this service will attract visitors to join them for a joyous holiday celebration.

▪ Christmas events at St. Benedict’s Anglican Catholic Church, 870 Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill, are all scheduled on Christmas Eve.

Caroling in the parish hall will begin at 4 p.m. and will include a children’s pageant. At 5 p.m. Holy Communion will be shared as well as during the 11 p.m. Midnight Mass, a traditional Mass for Christmas that is a well established Anglican tradition.

▪ Duke Chapel’s traditional Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols will begin at 11 p.m. with an instrumental prelude beginning at 10:30 p.m. and a sermon from Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery.

This service will be broadcast live in most parts of the state on Time Warner Cable News, channel 14 or 200.

Duke Chapel also has a 2 p.m. interactive children’s service and a 5:30 p.m. service with Christmas carols, the Durham Children’s Choir and the Amalgam brass ensemble.

All services will be held in Page Auditorium while the chapel is being renovated and are free and open to the public. Attendees for the late service should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early.

▪ Christmas Eve at United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., begins with a 4 p.m. service designed for children. Children will be invited to participate as one of the characters in the Christmas story and costumes will be available. Worship will be followed by a birthday party for Jesus.

The candlelight service at 7 p.m. will include music by the Chamber Singers and a sermon by the Rev. Richard Edens, senior pastor. A second candlelight service at 9 p.m. will have music by the Chancel Choir and a message by Edens. This service will be interpreted in American Sign Language.

An 11 p.m. candlelight and Communion service will have soloists providing music and will include a message from the senior pastor.

Contact Flo Johnston at or call 910-361-4135.