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Churches to join in ecumenical event

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 11:41 a.m. CDT

For the 17th year in a row, the congregations of eight mainstream Christian churches in Newton will participate in a joint Christmas event Sunday, beginning at 3 p.m.

Rita Baker, a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, has been helping to organize the annual Christmas Walk since its inception in 1996. In fact, none of the original clergy members who helped get the tradition started are still around today.

“I guess you could say I’m the only one left,” she said. “It started out just as an idea to help create some unity among the Christian churches. Newton is fairly unique in that it has eight mainstream churches all within a three- or four-block radius of downtown.”

Each year, the Christmas Walk begins at one of the eight churches, rotating through the churches every eight years. The first four stops include readings from The Book of Isaiah that prophesied the arrival of Jesus Christ.

The second four stops including readings from The Book of Luke and from The Book of Matthew that describe the Christmas story. At each of the eight stops, those taking part in the walk will join in prayer, scripture readings and singing a carol or two from a songbook Baker has put together for the event.

“This has been taking place on the second Sunday of December for several years,” she said. “That’s just become the automatic date for the Christmas Walk now. Weather has only ever been an issue once, when we had to postpone it for a couple of days because of a snow storm.”

This year, the Christmas Walk will begin at First Presbyterian Church at 220 N. Second Ave. E. Other stops include First Lutheran Church, St. Stephen’s, the Salvation Army Citadel, United Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, First Christian Church and Congregational United Church of Christ.

Following the last stop at Congregational UCC, there will be time for fellowship and refreshments.

“You don’t have to be a member of one of the eight churches to participate in the Church Walk,” Baker said. “Everyone is invited. So, we hope many of the other churches in the community will join in with us this year.”

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