Christmas means church pews will host bi-annual visitors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

For the regular church-goer, the holiday season always has its share of problems. For one, there’s a good chance some strange face will have taken your regular seat on the aisle.

Christmas and Easter tend to motivate more people to attend church services, reconcile their faith or even consider religion. Is it pure circumstance that what is calling people to church may be the thoughtfulness the holiday infers, the spirit of charity it implies or the sentiments of hope for a world that is sometimes gloomy.

To some it is not. According to Dr. Allen Atkins, pastor at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Demopolis, there are a lot of reasons people are inspired participate in church services during the holidays.

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He believes, "[Christmas and Easter] are the two times of the year people are told to realize that God loved me so much, that He allowed his Son to be born, and Easter reminds us that God loves me so much that Jesus died and rose again."

Rev. David Anderson, from New Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church, agrees. However, he is more expressive about his feelings pertaining to the issues of the commercialization of Christmas.

He also believes the hoopla and excitement surrounding Christmas holiday sales and the idea of receiving gifts has been "blown cleaned out of proportion."

He confesses, "people are about what I can get and not so much what I can give." Ultimately, this 61-year-old self-proclaimed radical pastor believes people are simply following a tradition that is not necessarily correspondent with the Holy Bible.

Others non-clergymen agree with Anderson. Gloria Owens, a native of Demopolis, believes people attend church services simply, "out of habit." This may be a habitual mode that is rarely followed by any further understanding of self or the appreciation of God.

Understanding Christmas from a historical standpoint is to evaluate the Christian faith.

Although, the Fairhaven is not doing anything in particular on Christmas day, Atkins said his church participated in a number of outreach ministries and would "encourage people to spend time with their families." Like many pastors in the area, he will continue along the route of ministering about the birth of Christ, even long after the Christmas trees have been stored away.