As they have for the past six years, families from throughout the area paused from shopping for presents, writing Christmas cards and decorating their homes for the rare opportunity to tour eight of downtown Wooster’s most historic churches at one time.
Because most Christian churches hold their weekly services almost simultaneously each Sunday, most members of the community rarely have the opportunity to see the interior of some of Wooster’s most historic downtown buildings, a number of which date back into the 1800s.
Wooster’s historic downtown churches have and continue to be the heart and soul of the downtown community.
“The churches in downtown Wooster are beautiful and so tranquil and lovely, especially during the Christmas season,” said Sandra Hull, Main Street Wooster executive director.
“They also are - and always have been - a very important part of the make up of downtown,” said Hull, adding, “without their spirit of community and desire to make the world a better place for all, we certainly would be missing out on something beautiful.”
Participating in this year’s event were eight downtown Wooster churches - Central Christian Church, Faith Harvest Fellowship, First Baptist Church, St. James Episcopal Church, Second Baptist Church, Trinity United Church of Christ, Wooster United Methodist Church and Zion Lutheran Church.
Rows of luminaries lit the way as visitors ducked out of the cold and into the warmth of eight candlelight churches decked out for the Christmas season.
According to Main Street Wooster, which hosts the annual self-guided candlelight walking tour, the event allows the downtown congregations to showcase their buildings, programs, history and music.
In addition to offering tours, slideshows and displays, many of the participating churches also offered refreshments to the steady stream of visitors that flowed through downtown throughout the evening.
If the flickering candlelight within the historic buildings set the scene, the music that filled the grand spaces set the tone for this year’s downtown church walk as the sounds of carols played on pipe organs rang throughout the evening.
At First Baptist Church, which, according to Main Street Wooster, is the oldest church in downtown Wooster, Neil Jackson, of the Schantz Organ Company, played Christmas carols on the church’s historic converted hand-pump Schantz pipe organ.
Visitors to Zion Lutheran Church were greeted with the sounds of Christmas music played on the church’s magnificent 1951 era 45-rank Schantz pipe organ.
Wooster United Methodist Church and Trinity United Church of Christ also presented music throughout the evening.
The Candlelight Walking Tour of Downtown Churches was sponsored by Main Street Wooster.
Information on Main Street Wooster, including a listing of the other downtown events sponsored by the organization, can be found at http://www.mainstreetwooster.org.
Published: December 5, 2011