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Annual holiday tradition continues at Faith Bible Church

| Friday, Dec. 9, 2011

The Living Christmas Tree will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 17 at Faith Bible Church. This will be the 19th time for the holiday event.

The program features rows of singers as high as the ceiling in the shape of a tree. There are 48 individuals who are standing in the display that has been specially constructed to allow them to perform in their respective places that then form the shape.

One of the most dramatic elements of the program is the more than 10,000 lights, in eight different colors, that, through a series of electrical relays, keep time with the music.

The changes and timing are in the hands of a technician, who incorporates the many different colors into the program, either individually or in combinations.

Stephen Regish, who operates the lights, has been with the program since its inception.

"This is our 19th year for the event. After annual performances for 17 years, we retired the program in 2005, but enthusiasm remained high, so we brought it back last year," said Pastor Barry Witt.

While most of the participants have been a part of Faith Bible Church, some have come from the local community and surrounding areas.

The Silvertones, a group of instrumentalists from Connellsville, participated in the early years. This group was followed by another one from the Greensburg area, led by Earl Minerd, whose members faithfully lent their talents for more than a decade.

David Reed Sr. has directed the cantata every year.

"I believe at least five individuals have sung in every cantata. And, of course, a few new voices join the ranks each year to replace those who are unable to be back," said Witt.

" This year's cantata is entitled, 'The Gift Goes On' and follows, as you would expect, a Christmas theme, with traditional carols combined with more contemporary music. One of my favorite songs in the cantata, which has become very popular around the country, is 'Rose of Bethlehem.' There is narration, along with a couple of solos, male and female," Witt said. The huge amount of manpower that goes into this program each year is for one purpose -- to share the true meaning of Christmas.

The program is approximately an hour long. There is no charge.

The schedule of three dates allows people to see it more than one time during the busy holiday season and many do return, said Witt.

The church is located at 425 S. Arch St. in Connellsville.

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