SECC Churches and Schools Celebrate Christmas

Posted on Jan 19 2018

Schools and churches from all over the Southeastern California Conference territory held Christmas events during December to their friends, families, and communities.

Corona church started off the holiday season by hosting a gingerbread house making event for church and community members on Dec. 3. Everything necessary to make the houses was provided, including dozens of assorted candies and decorations.

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nland Empire Filipino church presented its 15th annual Christmas cantata on Dec. 8 and 9. The program started with a 120-member mass choir rendition of composer/arranger Mike Speck’s “Celebrate, Rejoice!” conducted by Jun Israel. The mass choir was composed of members of seven church choral groups and was accompanied by string, wind, and brass ensembles. The sanctuary was filled with people from all walks of life and different religious denominations, and friends from neighboring Adventist churches.

“As one of the many ministries that this church has embarked on, the annual Christmas cantata is one that has touched many lives in many different ways,” Israel said. “It is hoped that by listening to our songs, people will be encouraged to establish a closer relationship with our God.”

La Sierra Academy held a TK-6 Christmas concert on Dec. 14 that featured 300 elementary students singing the story of Jesus with the theme “O Holy Night.” The elementary band accompanied the performance. Third- through sixth-grade students mimed to the Nativity story, narrated by Spring Benfield, TK-6 principal.

Mission Road church members hosted their third annual Christmas lunch for church members and international students in the community who do not have family in the area. Around 75 people gathered to socialize and eat together, many of them from Thailand and China. Dean Horinouchi, pastor at Mission Road church, picked up seniors from Linda Valley Villa as well.

“There are a lot of people from our church from overseas who do not have family around,” Horinouchi said. “We just try to reach out to them and be there together—we’re all family.

Mt. Rubidoux church’s counseling ministries invited families and church members who lost their loved ones to participate in Blue Christmas on Dec. 13. The service was started by someone lighting a blue candle and praying. Then the room was open for anyone to talk in a safe space about their loved one, reflecting and allowing time to grieve. During a sermonette, an individual could wrap a blue ribbon around someone else’s hand to represent unity and support. The evening ended by everyone passing around candles lit from the first blue candle while singing “Silent Night” in unison. Kisha Bashkiharatee, counseling ministry coleader, was blessed by the moving program and plans on continuing it next year.

“We as a church family have experienced so much loss this year, and counseling ministries wanted to provide a safe and caring environment for healing and remembrance,” Bashkiharatee said.

Redlands church and Know Him Productions presented “The Debt: A Christmas Drama” at four nightly performances in December, plus Sabbath morning church service to more than 1,000 community members and visitors. The drama was about a family who owned an inn and became indebted to the person who carried their mortgage. The eldest son brought them to ruin, and they became debt slaves. The son was a shepherd who ended up being led by angels to Baby Jesus—at the same inn his family used to own. He ended up finding forgiveness in the Lord and made things right with his father.

“It’s a Bible setting, but so relevant to today,” said Martha Myers, a team member for Know Him Productions. “A family member today can do something wrong and cause the whole family to suffer. Christ will forgive them and help grow the whole family back together.”

Valley Adventist Christian School presented the musical event, “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” on Dec. 16 at Moreno Valley church. TK-8th grade students, school administrators, and staff sang, played instruments, and used sign language to minister to all those in attendance. Kimberly Matthews, principal of VACS, wrote and directed the play that focused on Christ’s birth.

“I have been to all the VACS Christmas programs, but this was by far the best,” one attendee said.

Jessica Anzai Permaul