Altha First Baptist Church, located in neighboring Calhoun County, conducted its Greening of the Sanctuary ceremony Sunday night, Dec. 1.

The tradition dates to 1982, when congregation member Mary Frank Brooks suggested it. She’d been inspired by the ceremony at her old home church when she and her husband Richard lived in Waycross, Georgia.

It has become one of the most anticipated events of the Christmas season for the church and its extended family.

The ceremony has four primary parts: The hanging of the wreaths, the hanging of the garland, the lighting of the candles and the presentation of red and white poinsettias donated by members of the church in honor of loved ones that have died.

Each part of the ceremony includes musical presentations and/or readings that celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The church choir, its praise team, small groups and individuals take turns singing the story in conjunction with the wreath, garland and poinsettia placements and the lighting of candles in the windows and a trinity of them at a focal point near the front inside the sanctuary.

It lasts about an hour, and is followed by a meal in the fellowship hall.

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