Christmas isn't over for all churches

December 31, 2009 

In the area’s faith community, special services for Christmas aren’t over yet.

A lot depends on your Christian congregation’s beliefs. For example, churches following Western tradition use the Gregorian calendar and present special services on or close to Dec. 25. But that isn’t the case for some traditional Armenian or Eastern Orthodox congregations.

Take, for example, Fresno’s Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, which observes Christmas on Jan. 6, the day when all Christian churches celebrated Jesus’ birth until the fourth century. Then, most changed to Dec. 25.

Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, at 2226 Ventura Ave., uses the old date. Many refer to it as the “Armenian Christmas” season because special services are feast days and emphasize Christ’s Theophany, the manifestations of God. They include the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem and Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan.

Here’s what’s on tap at Holy Trinity:

* Armenian Christmas Eve Holy Badarak service will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by traditional Armenian dinner — fish, Vartabed soup and egg/vegetable omelettes — at 7 p.m. in the social hall. The dinner costs $10 for adults or $5 for children under age 12.

Armenian Christmas Day Holy Badarak service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by the Blessing of the Water service for Jesus’ Baptism at noon.

* The Nativity Scene, performed by members of the church’s Sunday school classes, will be at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 10.

Details: (559) 486-1141.

Fresno’s St. Peter the Apostle Serbian Orthodox Church also celebrates using an alternate calendar. It follows the Eastern Orthodox tradition by using the Julian calendar. Its Nativity and Theophany services will be held throughout this month, including Christmas Eve liturgy at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Christmas Day service at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The church is at 3502 N. Orchard Ave. Details: (559) 227-5565.

An eye for change

The Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ organization does a lot of mentoring for the area’s youth. The latest is the YFC City Life Photo Club, which is designed to increase youth awareness in the community and photographic skills. Participants, mainly students from the impoverished Lowell Elementary School neighborhood, have been busy taking photos of the area’s passageways, such as windows, doors and streets, and using Photoshop to include their portraits.

Paul Mullins, owner of Mullins Studio Gallery, has worked with the youth. Some of their work will be displayed in a special exhibit Thursday in Mullins’ gallery at Broadway Studios, 1416 Broadway St., Suite D.

“We are teaching kids a skill they can use to creatively express themselves and have fun,” says Youth for Christ’s executive director, Ed Kaczmarek.

Details: (559) 237-4741.

Special speaker for MLK

Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., will be the special guest speaker at the Martin Luther King breakfast at 7 a.m. Jan. 12 at Westside Church of God, 1422 W. California Ave.

Cost is $20. Details: (559) 225-5095.

Handle finances with hope

The 13-week Financial Peace University program, which teaches people how to handle their money through common-sense principles and small-group accountability, will begin at some Fresno churches.

* Harmony Free Will Baptist Church will start the study at 7 p.m. Thursday at 5372 E. Belmont Ave. Details: (559) 269-6929.

* Sequoia Community Church will begin at 5 p.m. next Saturday at 5707 E. Balch Ave. Details: (559) 978-6562.

Ron Orozco covers religion for The Bee. He can be reached at rorozco@ fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6304.

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