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Sights and Sounds of Advent: Asbury UMC and Gregory UMC perform cantatas, Holmes UMC’s live nativity, Vincent UMC holds Miracle of Christmas event.

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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The musicians at Asbury UMC perform "The Seven Noels: Songs to Light the World." Screenshot from Facebook video.

Musicians from Asbury United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, performed the Christmas cantata The Seven Noels: Songs to Light the World. The adult and Joysingers choirs shared the experience of the Christmas story through the tune of a favorite Christmas Carol, The First Noel. Asbury UMC has set up an opportunity for people to shop at the Christmas Giving Center. The Missions Team put together a Christmas gift catalog that is sure to please everyone on your Christmas shopping list. The catalog describes 21 international, regional, and local mission projects that Asbury supports throughout the year. Shoppers can browse through international projects like Solar Oven Partners, UMCOR’s (United Methodist Committee of Relief) or Midwest Mission Distribution Center. Shoppers can make a difference in the Dakotas Conference by supporting Bakken Oil Rush Ministry, Tree of Life in Mission, or the Flandreau Indian School Chaplaincy. Sioux Falls projects shoppers can choose from include The Banquet, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, Community Outreach, Feeding South Dakota, Project Car, and the St Francis House. Asbury’s ministry is also part of the catalog, people can support camp scholarships, or Asbury’s signature ministry with Laura Wilder Elementary. Listen to The Seven Noels: Songs to Light the World. View the Christmas Center 2023 catalog.


Holmes Umc

The manger scene at Holmes UMC's nativity pageant. Photo by Rev. Kris Mutzenberger.

Holmes United Methodist Church held its last live nativity pageant. With a starry night sky as backdrop, a dimly lit barn, livestock, and a makeshift stable set the stage for the reenactment of the Christmas story that has become a beloved tradition for more than three decades at a rural Reynolds farmstead. The congregation has touched thousands of live by portraying the true meaning of Christmas in the horse arena at a farm owned by Sara and Dwight Ollman, by Reynolds, North Dakota. “It was a very difficult decision” to end the pageant after this year’s presentations, said Rev. Mark Ellingson, who has served as narrator since the pageant was launched in 1988. “There were more than one or two tears.” Read Grand Fork’s Tribune article.


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The children sing at Gregory UMC. Screenshot from Facebook video.

On Sunday, December 17, members of the community members gathered at the United Methodist Church in Gregory, South Dakota, for this year’s children’s Christmas musical, Shepherds, Sheep and a Savior." The children’s performance was followed by Gregory UMC’s choir performing "A Brand New Day" a Christmas cantata. The choir performed on Saturday, December 16.  “It is an honor to sing with the group and spread joy of the season,” said Rev. Thaneal Certa Werner, Burke, Herrick, and Gregory United Methodist churches. View the children’s program.  Watch the cantata, beginning at 12 minutes


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Santa greets children at the Miracle of Christmas in Minot. Screenshot from KFYR news story.

Hundreds showed up for the Miracle of Christmas, a family Christmas event coordinated by Bonnie Oaks and members of Vincent United Methodist Church in Minot, North Dakota. The purpose is to provide families with limited resources a Christmas buffet meal of ham and mashed potatoes, no-cost Christmas shopping and gift wrapping. Santa was present to see the children, and there was an impromptu children’s Christmas pageant. “We did it on a smaller scale last year, and the response was overwhelming. We quickly ran out of space. We needed a larger space, and the Sleep Inn graciously offered us their rooms,” Oaks said.  Watch a news story from KFYR TV.

Do you have a special Christmas tradition at your church? Please share it with us! Advent is here, and that means the sights and sounds of holiday decorations, cherubs, and nativities are all around us. Share Advent  stories, photos, and videos with the rest of the Dakotas Conference via email at or text 605-770-8540.

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