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Englewood Church Plans Candlelight Carol Service One Year After Fire

First Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir, in its new home in Elmore Hall, will be celebrating the 105th Annual Candlelight Carol Service Dec 11.
First Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir, in its new home in Elmore Hall, will be celebrating the 105th Annual Candlelight Carol Service Dec 11. Photo Credit: First Presbyterian Church of Englewood

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. -- The First Presbyterian Church of Englewood is greeting this year's Christmas season with renewed vigor after a devastating fire last Easter week destroyed the sanctuary.

This year, the church will be able to have its holiday services in the refurbished Elmore Hall. Newly painted and spruced up, the hall has become a friendly place to worship. The loss of the main sanctuary has brought a new closeness to the congregants and to the community, church officials said in a press release.

"The walls that make up a church are not as important as the people who are the church," said the Rev. Richard Hong.

The church's annual candlelight carol service has been a popular tradition in Bergen County for 105 years. This yea,r there will be two services, at 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, to accommodate all who wish to be part of the music and worship.

Directed by David Macfarlane, this holiday service features the Chancel Choir, soloists, brass and percussion instrumentalists performing traditional and contemporary Christmas carols. Macfarlane, the church's music director and organist, said: "Our Christmas service has been a go-to event for the whole community for generations of northern New Jersey residents. It will be very exciting to be in a different space. There is always something new at this long-established service and this year we have a new digital organ to enhance the sound of our familiar carols."

Local musicians Karen Stern (Tenafly) on harp, Margaret Swinchoski (Bogota) on flute, soloists Sandra Ruggles and Iris Karlin (both of Teaneck), as well as the Manhattan brass quartet/timpani will join the church choirs to add to this festive mixture of sound.

Each service concludes with the traditional lighting of candles and the singing of "Silent Night." Audience participants will be given hand candles so they can join in the singing of this final carol.

Hong and the Rev. Kellie Anderson-Picallo, who will be leading the services, said everyone in the community is welcome to share in the celebration.

First Presbyterian Church is at 150 E. Palisade Ave., Englewood. For more information, visit its website or call 201-568 7373.

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