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Celebrants gathered for 47th Annual United Christmas

*THE CELEBRANTS gathered in large 47th Annual United Christmas celebration in Valley, AL. Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church hosted the grand occasion at 10 AM EST. Guest Pastor: Dr. Lamar Johnson, Mt. Hermon Missionary Baptist Church, Lanett, AL. The United Christmas Choir Musician: Dea. Myron Fears, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Lafayette, AL. Mistress of Order: Minister Gretchen Holloway, Rehoboth Baptist Church, Valley, AL. Background Biblical Reference for the “Light of the World”- Luke 2:10-11. The program was opened with a Processional of the United Choir accompanied Musician: Dea. Myron Fears and Percussionist Steward Robert Chambers. Following the Processional, the Devotional was led by: Deacons: Amos Newton, Ronnie McCulloh, Elijah Johnson, Johnny Thomas, Billy McCants and Stewards: Eddie Carlisle, Steve Finch. The United Christmas Choir’s attire: black suits and black dresses with an accent of a red corsage. Selection led by Bro. Eric Finch. Sis. Joy Heard said words of welcome. Bro. Roy Chambers gave the acceptance. Another selection from the United Christmas Choir. The Christmas symbols were given by youth: Christmas Tree- Zachariah Finch, Christmas Lights- Darius Stephens, Jr., Holly and Mistletoe- Ta’Kia Summers. Then the Memorial Tribute was presented in reflections with candlelight from: Sis. Chiquita Gibson. Offerings followed by Offertory Prayer. The United Choir sang inspirationally for the Pulpit Devotion. The very well song service featured beautiful music, including Sis. Ruby Holloway and “Silent Night”. Rev. Larry Threatts read Scripture from the Old Testament and Rev. Karanja Story read the New Testament Scripture. Rev. David Core prayed. Presentation of the Guest Minister was given by Rev. James S. Hill (Host Pastor). The heart touching Sermon was well Dr. Johnson opened with a Hymn: “Let God Have His Way”. He said he had been singing for that morning and even in the night.  Then he said, you don’t know what I’m going through and I don’t know what you are going through! But let the Lord have His way! Rev. Johnson used Scripture from Luke 2:25. He used the Scripture: “Look at Jesus”. Some of his high points: the celebrants or listeners wanted to go back home and look at their gifts but he would not preach long. He set the atmosphere of his message for the congregation to understand Christ is all and He can do all things… As he continued, he said whenever you run, you can never run frim Christ, he is always there. No matter what your problems are, He understands. There is nothing new under the sun. there were taxes to be paid in those days also. The couple (Mary and Joseph) had to go pay taxes. This was a time when the couple was expecting the birth. They went to an Inn. The owner told Joseph there was no more room there. Joseph and Mary wen to the stable where animals were. Because they refused Jesus’ birth in the Inn. Rev. Johnson mentioned in our lives we also refuse to accept Jesus. But think about who Jesus was, the Wonderful Counselor, the way out of no way, the government is on His shoulders, and Ezekiel called Him a wheel in the middle of a wheel. Simply means that Jesus gives strength and much more. After all, Jesus was a male child and much was expected of male children. Jesus had that expectation and more! Then, Dr. Johnson touched the regular homes and families, when he said enough people should take time and treat their children as children should be treated and as Jesus was treated. After Jesus was born his parents brought Him back to the Lord in the Temple. There they presented Jesus to the Lord. There is nothing new under the sun. Mothers prayed to Lord to make their children better. Also, Grandmothers prayed too. Somebody prayed for me. That’s why I’m here today. We must learn to pray Jesus left His Divinity in Glory and came here to represent us on earth. Oh! How Great! But still Jesus had to have a child’s life. As he grew as many of us did, he was walking along with Mother Mary and other women. Suddenly, Mary looked around and Jesus was gone. They found Him in the Temple, teaching old people and children and then grow up! And Jesus continued his first divine work, as changing water into wine, healing to sick, opening blinded eyes. After he grew and became grown he learned to work his divine miracles. The people were still trying to grumble about what a life Jesus had… Jesus was the greatest. He could do what no one else could go, because he had the power to perform miracles. Then, he encouraged all to be thankful for the Lord Jesus, because they could handle their limbs of the body… nobody else can enable us like Jesus. The sermon was timely, helpful, and beautiful.

**LAST SUNDAY- December 17, 2017 was the climaxing performance of the Advent Season. Peace at St. Stephens CME Church. Deborah: Today we light the Fourth Candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace. God has a peaceful dream for the world, and we dream it too. We dream of a peaceful world full of wolves and leopards and lions eating and sleeping and dancing with lambs, kids, and calves. We dream of a peaceful world where nations come together, where war is a memory, and we eat at one table. D’Asia: This is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Today, we light four candles three purple candles and pink candle. The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. The Second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. The Third Sunday, we lit the candle of joy. Today, we light the candle of hope, love, joy and peace. Our world is not always a peaceful place. Kadeem: lit the candles. All: On this day, we remember the Lord of All who brings peace surpassing all understanding. Song: (Silent Night). Rachel: When we look at the fourth candle, we remember God’s promise of peace. We recall the words of Jesus in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”. In times of war and hatred it hard to remember that Jesus is the one who brings peace. During Advent we pray that we, as well as all people, will seek God’s peace. Viola: In Luke 2:1-20 the shepherds may have not felt very peaceful when they heard the words of the angel. They were probably scared and confused, but they followed those words, trusting in God. Sometimes all we see around us gives a message different from the message of peace. Yet we, like the shepherds, can follow God’s words and trust in God’s promises. Conchettia: This Scripture reminds us that when we are fearful, we are often not thinking of peace. The angels calm the shepherds and send them forward with a task. As we approach Christmas let’s remember that God’s intention is a place of peace where people shake hands instead of harming one another. Gary Shepard: Let us pray: Dear God, Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for those in our world today who seek to act for peace. Help us look for ways to be peacemakers at home, at church, at school and in the world. Amen.

**PLEASE CONTINUE to pray for the sick and shut ins. May all of you have speedy recoveries. We are happy Rev. McGhee and Artancy Davis are back.

**ST. STEPHENS has received blessings in Literature: may all the blessings of Christmas fill your hearts for the season. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Let your Christmas be donated with bright smiles and specials moments.

**WHAT’S NEW for the Year of 2018? Have you made your New Resolutions? Did you resolve not to smoke cigarettes in the future? Did you resolve to get homework in the future? Did you resolve to use your time wisely in the future? Did you resolve not text while driving? Did you resolve to respect the people in your home? Or respect your neighbors as you should? You might want to add to this list..

**HAPPY BIRTHDAY to: Hugh Clifton, Bobby Jo Martin, Dec. 28; Lorenza Lagail Ray, Willie James Ray, LaWendell Roberts, Dec. 29; Alice Hall, Sarah Poole, Shawn Marshall, Dorothy Allen, Eric Murphy, Dec. 30; Ricky Baker, Jackie Sims, Willie Authur Johnson, Blake Glaze, Dec. 31; Eddie B. Carlisle, Leisa Brown, Jan. 1; Freddy Broome, Jan. 2; Payton Van Zant, Blake Henderson; Jan. 3; Steve Finch, Frank Jones, Jan. 4. May all of you have many more.

**WE PAUSED for condolences, we are sharing your sorrows in lost your loved ones. May each day grow brighter… You are in our prayers.

**FROM THE Pastor’s Desk: He announced that there will be 9:00 AM Worship Service, Next Sunday, December 31, 2017 at St. Stephens. He also announced Watch Night Service will begin Sunday Night, Dec. 31st at 10 PM at St. Stephens CME.

**OOPS! THE spirit of giving still moves on for the following. January, February, March socks, April- June, Panties (L, XL), August, September T-shirts (L, XL), October- December Sports Bra (L, XL). This is the Holiday Giving List= Missionary- Sis. Edith Coleman.

**BE SAFE as you travel, especially those who are returning to long distance work etc. Hopefully your Christmas was enjoyable at home with family.

**SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS to Lanett High School they are playing Basketball in Myrtle Beach, SC. We are praying for their success.

**HAVE A good week.