Welcome the faithful under one roof

Image: “Still the greatest story ever told” invited the congregation to the annual Italy Ministerial Alliance Christmas service on Sunday night.

“Still the greatest story ever told” invited the congregation to the annual Italy Ministerial Alliance Christmas service on Sunday night. (Anne Sutherland)

Christmas hymns and beautiful faces graced Central Baptist Church on Sunday evening as Italy Ministerial Alliance hosted the annual Christmas Service. The weather was a little sloppy and cold but that did not stop the faithful from coming.

Pastor Bill Morgan of Family Fellowship Church opened the service and sang Worthy is the Lamb and spoke of Isaiah 40:1, 3, 5,11.

1“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God.
3 A voice cries out in the desert:
Clear a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway in the wilderness for our God.
5 Then the Lord’s glory will be revealed
and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken.”
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young_ God’s Word Translation

Pastor Algua Ray Isaac, pastor of Union Baptist Church, welcomed the crowd and said, “Even though it is raining on the outside, it’s shining on the inside.” Guilherme Aleida, music director at Central Baptist Church, led everyone in Joy to the World, a beautiful chorus from inside of the church and the hearts of the people.

Pastor Mittie Muse, pastor of Mount Zion AME Church, read Luke 2:1-14, the Christmas story—"still the greatest story ever told". A presentation by Mt. Gilead Mime Ministry inspired the crowd. Special music was presented by Coming to Christ Pentecostal, Mt. Gilead and Union Missionary Baptist combined Male Chorus—awesome music.

Pastor Leah Hidde-Gregory, Methodist pastor of Italy and Frost, gave the message for the evening. Pastor Leah has a passion for the hungry and spoke about our local food pantry. Inspired by the organization of Advent Conspiracy, she challenged the crowd to spend time with the family, “Spend less on gifts this Christmas season and spend more time with the ones you love. What if we gave things that people need?” Pastor Leah explained America spends $450 billion on gifts. “Less money could be spent on fresh water and produce and still have money to save.” She referenced the scripture John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish” and explained that scripture could be apart of Christmas too. “We are celebrating the birth and second coming of Christ. We are also brothers and sisters in Christ and there is a lot of work to be done-right here in Italy. You cannot save a hungry man’s soul without building a relationship.” She challenged the congregation to give their love, time and prayer to one another.

Pastor Morgan announced the IMA schedule for the remaining part of the year. December 17, food baskets would be delivered to area people by the food pantry. Pastor Preston Dixon is in charge of Toys For Tots, this being the first year. Please contact Mt. Gilead Church for applications. December 28 is designated for a Men’s Chili Supper. Murray Wainscott will be cooking his famous concoction and it will be held at the Cornerstone on Main Street. All men are invited.

Pastor Dixon introduced the newest church joining the Italy Ministerial Alliance, Iglesia Obra de Dios, pastored by Esteban Martinez. “We are truly thankful to be apart of this fellowship and this community. We are excited about what can be done with IMA and how we can help.”

The service was completed with singing of Come All Ye Faithful and hot chocolate provided by the City of Italy. The Italy Ministerial Alliance wishes everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!