This weekend was the final performance of the Living Christmas Trees, the outreach that has been annually presented by Grace Polaris Church, a Grace Brethren congregation on the north side of Columbus, Ohio (Mike Yoder, lead pastor), for the last 30 years. The Columbus Dispatch was on hand for the final concert. A portion of the report is included below. Click here to read the complete article, complete with photos of the event.
After 30 years, Living Christmas Trees perform last program
Late Sunday afternoon at Grace Polaris Church, crew members began to tear down the set, friends and family embraced in hugs and robed choir members filed out of giant, tiered Christmas trees for the last time after 30 years.
For the Far North Side church, it’s been three decades of its annual Living Christmas Trees program. Sunday marked the final show depicting the life of Jesus, or, as the Rev. Mike Yoder describes it, “the best story ever.”
The church auditorium will be renovated next year, making it impossible to host the annual event, though the church promises it will be back in 2018 with new holiday outreach.
Each year, the performance weaves a modern-day theme with the biblical stories of the birth, life and death of Jesus. This year’s program followed a group of people on a cruise ship as they explored the ancient stories of Christmas and Easter. The event was known as the Living Christmas Tree because choir members would be in two 30-foot trees on both sides of the auditorium stage, joining in during musical numbers.
Hundreds perform or help to put on the show each year, and more than 600,000 people have attended the performances.
The final performance Sunday brought a lot of tears, said Duey Varian of Lewis Center, an actor in the program.
“It’s been a mixture of feelings today. There’s been a lot of pride, a lot of sense of awe. Thirty years is an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “(But) it’s just the sadness of a chapter ending.”
For Varian and his family, the 30 years of performances have been multigenerational. His wife, Holly Varian, participated in the production when she was in junior high school, and now her husband and two teenage children are involved, too.
Click here to read the complete article, complete with photos of the event.