SUPERIOR – Over 200 people packed into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last week for the annual Mineral County Ecumenical Christmas Concert, put on by a multi-faith group of people from across the county.
The program featured a wide range of performances by people as young as three and as old as 90. According to Janet Updike, one of the program’s organizers, 90-year-old Nyla Prosser did a rendition of Oh Come All Ye Faithful in the middle of the show and encouraged the audience to join in.
Guests were welcomed as a band of local musicians from around the community played Christmas songs. Before and after the show, people were welcome to look around the church and mingle over refreshments.
This year’s program had a new feature. Members of the community were encouraged to bring in nativity scenes for display before and after the concert. Nancy Garcia, the concert’s lead coordinator, said Updike had presented the idea to her when she came on board to help organize the concert.
The show’s performances included a children’s chimes choir, vocals, guitar, piano and organ pieces. The show ended as a multi-faith ecumenical choir sang more Christmas songs, conducted by Derek Larson, music teacher at the St. Regis schools.
Over the course of the evening, there were 17 songs performed, including two renditions of Silent Night, and four instrumental solos. The pieces performed ranged from traditional Christmas songs, such as Joy to the World and Away in a Manger, to songs not heard as often, like Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming, and Shepherds Lowly.
According to Updike, over 60 nativity scenes were brought in for display, some of which were passed down through generations or had origins from all over the globe. The scenes also ranged from handmade to “finely carved olive wood from the Holy Land.”
The program started over 60 years ago by a group of ladies from the Methodist church who wanted to bring people together for a night of entertainment and welcome the Christmas season. While the event is still hosted by the Methodist church, it outgrew the space years ago and now rotates location each year between the larger Catholic Church and LDS Church.
The concert has since grown to also include people of all faiths and sees attendance by a large part of the community. Updike described the concert as one of the most popular events in the community, next only to the County Fair, and said people look forward to it all year.
However, there were some concerns this year about whether the event would be able to happen on time. The concert is always held on the first Monday in December, which left the organizers only a handful of days after Thanksgiving to complete the final preparations this year.
“There was just one weekend…to pull together all the last minute details,” said Garcia. “Somehow, I knew it would work out.”
Garcia and Updike both felt the event was a success and reported positive feedback from members of the community.
“I’m just so pleased with everyone’s participation,” said Garcia. “It was a great concert and everyone loved seeing the nativities too. This is a wonderful way to begin our Christmas season.”