By Elizabeth Lenart | Contributor
Plano, Texas – St. Andrew United Methodist Church invites the community to safely celebrate the season at “Journey of Lights,” a new outdoor, immersive Christmas experience, December 11 – 19, 6 – 9 p.m., 5801 W. Plano Parkway, benefiting the church’s new mental health initiative, a program that will be available not only to church members but also to the community.
“With a generous gift from an anonymous St. Andrew member family, St. Andrew leadership is excited to begin this new mental health initiative – a need we have been discussing for a long time that has only grown during the pandemic,” said Jenny Gomez, MS, LPCS, RPTS, at St. Andrew UMC. We are most grateful for their generosity and excited to announce our new ‘Journey of Lights’ event, which gives community members a chance to also support this mental health initiative – an effort which will reduce the stigma associated with mental health, open the lines of communication with families and individuals and connect them to important resources.”
At “Journey of Lights,” attendees will enjoy multiple immersive outdoor Christmas environments throughout the 21-acre campus, filled with photo opportunities, including a Christmas Village, featuring a magnificent oak tree filled with lights; a 3D snowfall lane; music with projection of Christmas carolers; holiday décor throughout the village with candy canes, reindeers, and snowmen; a larger-than-life advent calendar utilizing actual windows; costumed characters along the path; and visits by Santa and Mrs. Claus (Dec. 16 and 19); Light in the Darkness, a highly curated, immersive 30-minute light show experience throughout the trees and creek area, timed and synchronized with music of all St. Andrew Choirs and Imperial Brass, including visual projection, live Christmas vocalists, live handbells, readings, and actors sharing the Christmas story as guests walk through and savor the awe of the season; and culminating with a moving experience at Nativity at the Pond, with hanging lights, lanterns on the path, luminaries in the water, peaceful Christmas music such as Silent Night, and a live nativity on the island in the pond featuring Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Seating is available throughout all experiences for viewing and reflection of the season.
Paperless tickets sold in designated time segments are $5 each. Attendees may show their tickets through an App on their phones upon arrival at this timed event. Ages 2 and under are free.
Christmas at St. Andrew will also include its traditional, ticketed “A St. Andrew Christmas” musical celebration on two different dates in a drive-in format:
On December 20, at 6 p.m., St. Andrew is partnering with the VOCES8 Foundation to present Handel’s Messiah, performed by VOCES8 and the Academy of Ancient Music at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, through video on an LED wall. Sound will be available through car speakers via a designated radio station.
On December 21, at 6 p.m., the Imperial Brass big band will perform Christmas favorites live in a family friendly concert. The Ladies Liberty Show Troupe, featuring St. Andrew’s Sarah Brammer and Natalie Loftin Bell, will sing live. Throughout the concert, an LED wall will display pictures of Christmas card favorites that St. Andrew members may submit for this purpose in the days/weeks prior to the concert.
Both concerts will also benefit St. Andrew’s new mental health initiative. Only vehicles are permitted for both drive-in concerts (no standing or chairs for safety) at $20 per car. Additionally, there will be limited VIP tickets, including 2 parking spaces with room for outdoor seating, prime location, and goody bags for the kids. Each of these VIP tickets are $50 each (regular car is $20).
“Don’t miss this unique, COVID-19-year edition of our long-standing St. Andrew Christmas concert, one of the highlights of the season for the Dallas-Fort Worth region,” said Taylor Davis, director of music and worship arts. “We know that these types of events would not be possible without St. Andrew’s incredible musical partners including the VOCES8 Foundation, helping us to keep the tradition of a Christmas Messiah performance alive during this season of the pandemic; Imperial Brass and the Ladies Liberty Show Troupe, and last but not least, all our talented and flexible choirs bringing joy to others with their gift of song in some of the most creative ways.”
Additionally, St. Andrew will hold its Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services outdoors, online, and in the sanctuary. Visit www.standrewumc.org/Christmas for more details of all St. Andrew Christmas events and to purchase tickets for any of the ticketed events.
“This is a time like no other we have ever experienced,” said Rev. Robert Hasley, senior pastor, St. Andrew United Methodist Church. “Within our own church we have seen families and individuals struggling with and hurting with increasing anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and fear just as many others are in the community. Our new mental health initiative is going to be a life-changing and life-saving program for so many. We are beyond thrilled to finally be launching this effort and are most grateful to the generous family who kick-started this effort. Not only will this Christmas season at St. Andrew contribute to this critical effort, it will bring comfort of tidings and joy to everyone who celebrates with us. I am grateful to our hard-working and creative team who has put together all these amazing, affordable, and safe Christmas experiences at St. Andrew and invite you to join us. Many blessings to you and your family during this holiday season!”
All COVID-19 protocols will continue to be in place for each of these live, in-person events.
Our new mental health initiative is going to be a life-changing and life-saving program for so many.
Editor’s Note: St. Andrew United Methodist Church celebrating 35 years in Plano, is located at 5801 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, Texas 75093. Visit www.standrewumc.org or call 972-380-8001.