Woodstock churches open their doors to Christmas visitors

by | Dec 12, 2023

Six houses of worship participate in community’s innovative Open House Tour of Churches

Six historic Woodstock churches opened their doors Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, welcoming visitors, offering tours, providing Christmas music and serving food and drinks as part of the innovative Open House Tour of Churches.

Between 2 and 5 p.m., the six churches — Woodstock Baptist Church, Bethel Pentecostal Assembly, St. James United Church, St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, St. Luke’s Anglican Church and St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church — welcomed guests.

Rev. Ron Ecker, pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Assembly and chair of the local ministerial association, said the tour offered an excellent opportunity for the public to see inside the many churches in the community.

He said he loved the idea when representatives from St. Paul’s Presbyterian suggested it.

Ecker, along with church staff and congregation members, greeted visitors, offered tours and explained the history of the Pentecostal church, which opened in the 1960s.

He pointed to the many flags displayed on the church’s sanctuary walls, welcoming the several nationalities among Bethel Assembly’s diverse congregations, including many Filipino church members.

The new and modern Woodstock Baptist Church welcomed visitors and church members throughout the afternoon tour. It closed with the second of two performances on the day of its “Brand New Hallelujah,” a Christmas Cantata.

Those entering the St. James United Church’s sanctuary during the open tour immediately heard the recorded music of former organist Roberta White.

Church representatives encouraged visitors to tour the building, including the downstairs, to view the murals depicting Bible stories and the touching display of memorial angels.

St. Paul’s Presbyterian offered music throughout the tour hours, starting with the handbell choir at 2 p.m., followed by popular local pianist J. P. Nadeau at 3 p.m.

Local veterinarian and church organist Dr. Nolan Golding brought St. Paul’s historic pipe organ, dating back to 1906, to life during the final hour of the open house.

Rick Wilson and Ardith MacDonald were among those on hand to greet visitors to St. Luke’s Anglican Church to see its Christmas decor.

The Mitten Tree sat at the heart of the Christmas display. In partnership with the Salvation Army, the church collects mittens on the tree and toys around it to present to children throughout the community.

St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church offered live music through Sunday afternoon’s open house, including the Knowlesville Musicians, who provided music and song, including piano, fiddle, and a string assemble.

Woodstock businessman and musician John Thompson offered harp music, while the Hansons, Mary, Sandra and Thomas entertained with piano, voice and trumpet, respectively.

Rev. Ron Ecker, Bethel Pentecostal Assembly pastor and ministerial association chair, right, and Matthew Loder, second from right, welcome visitors Bob and Mary Keenan to the church on St. James Street in Woodstock. (Jim Dumville photo)
Flags of nations from around the world line the Bethel Pentecostal Assembly sanctuary walls, paying tribute to the many nationalities of the church’s congregation. (Jim Dumville photo)
Mary, on piano, and Sandra Hanson sing Silent Night at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church in Woodstock on Sunday, Dec. 10. (Jim Dumville photo)
During the open tour, Thomas Hanson on trumpet was one of several entertainers at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church. (Jim Dumville photo)
St. James Church visitors shared in the glow of Memorial Angels on display. (Jim Dumville photo)
Those touring St. James United Church were encouraged to check out the many murals in the church basement depicting Bible stories. (Jim Dumville photo)
Ardith MacDonald and Rick Wilson stand next to St. Luke’s Anglican Church’s Mitten Tree, which collects mittens, toys and other gifts to deliver to local families at Christmas. (Jim Dumville photo)
Dr. Nolan Golding plays St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church’s historic pipe organ, dating back over a century to 1906. (Jim Dumville photo)
The historic pipe organ holds centre stage in St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Woodstock. (Jim Dumville photo)
The crowd rolls into the Woodstock Baptist Church as it prepares for its second Christmas Cantata performance on Sunday afternoon. (Jim Dumville photo)
Guests mingle in the Woodstock Baptist Church’s lobby during the open house. (Jim Dumville photo)
St. James United Church in Woodstock is decked out for the holiday magic. (Jim Dumville photo)

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