GALION — While some holiday traditions are being set aside this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a group of Galion area pastors decided to carry on a local tradition, though not in its traditional format.
“Many years ago, the churches of Galion got together and started a festival that included a Christmas parade, lots of events through the day, and it was called Come Home to Galion,” explained Rev. Ash Welch, pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church and president of the Galion Area Ministerial Association. “It was an invitation for people to come back and begin their Christmas season, the Advent season, on the first Saturday of December, with a whole day long filled with all kinds of activities. It’s developed and built up each year until last year when we started at 8 o’clock in the morning and had breakfast at the new pavilion at the Big Four Depot and ended up at the theater with the showing of ‘The Polar Express.’”
Welch, along with Rev. Heather McLeod of Christ United Methodist Church of Galion and Rev. Joshua Cole of Tabernacle of Praise in Crestline, conducted a brief ceremony on Saturday evening that included the retelling of the Christmas story as found in Luke 2, recitation of John 3:16, and the singing of several Christmas carols. The ceremony ended with the traditional lighting of the Galion community Christmas tree on the Square at the junction of Market Street and Harding Way.
Welch noted that while the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of Come Home to Galion, it was important to the local ministers to still disseminate the message of the Christmas story.
“We didn’t want to let go of the whole festival and the real reason for it, which was to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Welch said. “We agreed that we could at least have the telling of the story here at the public Square and the lighting of the Christmas tree. But things like Santa’s House and Santa coming has been postponed until, hopefully, next year. Next year, we’ll bring back the whole festival.”
Cole said the message of Christmas is one of peace and hope and he wanted to convey that to people in the community.
“For me, it means that there is still peace to be had and there’s still hope to be had, even when things are disrupted,” Cole said. “I think the changes of this year have shifted the ground underneath our feet and I think that this lighting of the tree, the telling of the story of Christ is basically getting ourselves back up onto solid ground again. The ground we should stand on isn’t about things that are convenient or entertaining, but on things that are true and lovely and transcendant. So, for me, it’s a lot about the peace and a lot about the hope.”
McLeod said for her the telling of the Christmas story is the most important aspect of Come Home to Galion.
“It’s so wonderful to be part of, honestly, the most important part of the tradition, which is remembering the Christmas story, remembering Christ’s birth, because none of us would be here right now if it wasn’t for Christ’s saving work and we wouldn’t remember Christ’s saving work if he wasn’t born,” McLeod said. “It’s so easy to get bogged down with Santa and reindeer and snowmen that we forget the real reason for the season. So, I hope those who tune in will be able to understand the true reason and will be able praise Jesus and thank him for being born and coming to save us.”
McLeod said a video recording of the ceremony can be viewed on the Galion Area Ministerial Association’s Facebook page.
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