08Festival In a community filled with fun and meaningful Christmas traditions, Owen Chapel and Camp Ground Methodist Church shares a new experience unlike any others locally. The Festival of Trees takes place Nov. 30-Dec 1, and the public is invited.

The Festival of Trees is just that, a celebration of beautifully decorated trees. “I think the thing I love about this is the different themes, like the patriotic theme, Frosty the Snowman, and the Friendly Beast, just to name a few,” said Sandy Holland, the event organizer. “One of my favorites is the historical tree decorated by Edward Goins, floral designer, that has grapevine and church ornaments on it.”

On Friday night, Nov. 30, ticket holders can tour the trees and then enjoy homemade snacks and drinks in the church’s Fellowship Hall, where the children can visit with Santa and have their picture taken. “The older children from our daycare will begin the evening by caroling at 6 p.m. in front of the Chapel,” said Holland.

Saturday night, Dec. 1, the tour begins at 4 p.m. and lasts until 6 p.m. Afterward, there is a Moravian Love Feast, which starts at 6:15 p.m. in the main sanctuary. The Love Feast is open to the public and is part of the ticket price.

Holland explained that the Moravian Love Feast is a communal meal shared among Christians. It originated in the early church and was a time of fellowship for believers. She said it refers to a Christian ritual meal distinct from the Lord’s Supper. “The Love Feast seeks to strengthen bonds and a spirit of harmony and goodwill with one another,” she said. “The Moravian church celebrates the Love Feast, with the Methodist Churches continuing the practice.”

The Festival of Trees is “a vision we have had for several years, and we were able to bring it to fruition this year,” said Holland. “For those that love the Christmas season, it is a new experience to enjoy. What better venue for this event than our historical William H. Owen Chapel? It enables us to open our doors to the community to view the chapel while enjoying the different trees, all decorated with a musical song theme. We have a few … members that have volunteered to share some history about the chapel during the tour as well.”

The Owen Chapel dates to 1861, although the congregation has worshipped at this site since the 1840s. In 1961 the congregation built a larger, more modern building in which to worship.

Proceeds for this event will go to Camp Ground UMC projects and missions, with a portion going specifically to local churches and schools that were affected by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

“Last fall, our mission team took a trip to Beverly County, Kentucky, Red Bird Mission,” Holland said. “During our community service, our group saw the great need there. One of our trees is devoted solely to that area. Most of the ornaments on that tree are handmade by the craftsmen of that county. All of the money received from ornament sales from this tree will go back to them.”

The Festival of Tress takes place at Owen Chapel at Camp Ground Methodist Church, 4625 Campground Rd. Tickets cost $6 in advance and $7 at the door. Children under 11 get in free. Tickets are available for purchase at Cumberland Paint on Forsyth Street, the Camp Ground Methodist Church office on Campground Road, and Fredrick’s Hair Salon on Sycamore Dairy Road across from CarMax. Call Sandy Holland at 910-867-9436 or 910-308-6112 for additional information.

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