The Living Christmas Tree at Maiden Lane Church of God has, for 30 years, come to define Christmas in Clark County almost as much as the lights at Clifton Mill.
But after this holiday season, it’s one tree that will be put away and never taken back out of storage.
The Springfield church is putting an end to the tradition in which a choir of up to 55 singers is positioned within a 30-foot-tall structure in the shape of a Christmas tree to sing songs of the season.
“There are a great many who will be sad to see it go,” said Pastor Tod Huston, who’s directed the Living Christmas Tree program for the past two years. “It’s been part of the identity of Maiden Lane.”
It is, however, time for the church to move on.
“We’re a congregation,” he added, “that needs to be known for more than just the tree.”
This weekend’s performances — which are sold out — will be the last after three decades.
“After 30 years of the same thing,” he said, “the Lord is calling us to do something new.”
The tree has enjoyed strong community support through the years, Huston said, but in recent years only some of the performances have sold out.
“We certainly took that into consideration,” he said.
What will replace the tree isn’t known, Huston said. But, he said, the congregation’s time also factored into the discussion to end the tree. Rehearsals typically began as early as August.
In all, close to 100 performers are involved in the program, including actors who portray part of the Christmas story and contemporary dancers.
“For a lot of people, part of their Christmas celebration is to come to the tree,” Huston said.
But the tree, with its more than 10,000 lights and star on top, is now perhaps best left to memory.
“This is the same structure (of ministry) they began with 30 years ago,” Huston said. “It’s a different world and time in which we live. We need to grow and evolve.”
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