The visitors came from near and far. All were treated to a good measure of holiday hospitality during the first Candlelight Church Walk held in Millersburg, Ohio on Dec. 10.
Five Millersburg churches were chosen for their close proximity to make it easy for people to walk from stop to stop. At each church, visitors were kindly greeted with a combination of church history, tours, Christmas displays and holiday refreshments.
Visitors were given a map to follow to guide them from church to church. They were heartily greeted at each church, which was festively decorated according to its own holiday traditions.
Yet, many common elements connected the quintet of denominations. The candlelight segment of the walk came in the form of luminaries that lined the front sidewalks and guided visitors into the individual sanctuaries. The luminaries were unique to each church, giving visitors a foretaste of what was inside.
Jim and Kim Sabo drove three hours from Bridgeport, West Virginia to do the tour. The Sabo’s consider the area their second home. When Mrs. Sabo happened to see the church walk mentioned online, they didn’t hesitate to do the tour.
At St. Peter’s Catholic Church, a couple that had retired to the Millersburg area for the peace and quiet found it in the sanctity of the walk and the people they met along the way.
Visitors to the Faith Lutheran Church marveled at the handmade decorations on the lovely Christmas tree at the front of the church, and rested at tables in the fellowship hall to enjoy homemade cookies and punch.
A live nativity scene brought a respectful hush over those who passed through the Millersburg Christian Church sanctuary. The nativity actors, all attired with period costumes, filled the pulpit area.
At First Presbyterian Church, visitors enjoyed refreshments upon entering the foyer, and could inspect the decorated sanctuary at their leisure. Louisa Erb, of Mt. Eaton, said she had always wanted to see the Presbyterian Church but never had.
“I like architecture and the church is very nice,” she said.
Several members of Millersburg Mennonite Church provided visitors with seasonal music that included various musical instruments. Each church provided a variety of refreshments.
Friends Lisa Lawhead, of Millersburg, and Cindy Funk, of Shreve, met at a local restaurant, and then decided to do the tour. Lawhead echoed a comment heard at nearly every church.
“I have been by this church many times,” she said, “but had never been in it until tonight.”
Others, like Bill and Barb Roderich and Tom and Pat Albu, of Canton, made the drive to do the tour at the invitation of friends. They said it was more than worth the drive. The evening ended with caroling at the First Presbyterian Church.
Lead organizer Kate Findley, who attends the Presbyterian Church, said she and the other planners were pleased with the turnout.
“We hope to do this again next year,” she said. “We really thank all the people from each congregation who made this event go so smoothly, and of course thank those who chose to take the tour.”