Hanging of the Greens
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Hanging of the Greens

In 1977 several First Baptist women decided to meld the tradition of decorating the sanctuary with a meaningful and festive Advent service. Delores Frazier, Edythe Crocker, Judy Roberts and a small group of dedicated women began to develop our first Hanging of the Greens service with guidance from Carolyn Brockwell, who had previously held such a service at Hayes Barton Baptist Church. Working with Dr. John Lewis and the other ministers, appropriate scripture readings, litanies and poetry were intermingled with anthems and carols, resulting in a service of worship and wonder. The service was received so positively that it immediately became one of the most beloved traditions at First Baptist.

The basic elements of Hanging of the Greens have remained the same, but there have also been many changes in the readings, decorations and music. More than 300 members of the church family work together each year to make the service possible. Few other traditions at First Baptist are the result of the combined efforts of so many members of the congregation. Every single decoration is carefully put in place by individual children and adults, one by one, resulting in a service that is simultaneously intimate and grand in scale. Each year the children look forward to their “new” parts as they age into different choirs with added responsibilities.

Each year we blend time-honored traditions – such as the processional anthem, many of our poetic readings and the singing of familiar carols – with new prayers, anthems and faces joining together to share the miraculous, ageless story. It is a service of joy, excitement and preparation for Christmas. It is a pilgrimage in heart and mind that begins with the prophecy of the Old Testament and ends in the celebration of the miracle of Christ’s birth. After more than 30 years, Hanging of the Greens continues to be a source of hope and witness for First Baptist.

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