A decades old tradition continues at Bethel United Methodist

Published 4:06 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

It started in the 1970s and has continued every Christmas since. At Bethel United Methodist Church in Dillwyn, there is always a candlelight service to celebrate the Christmas season. This year’s edition will take place this Sunday, Dec. 17, starting at 6 p.m. 

During the service, church members read from the Scriptures, sing carols and at the end, the lights go out and only the candles shine as people sing “Silent Night”. 

It got started as a Christmas Eve celebration. In the church’s history records, it says “The Christmas Candlelight Service was started under the direction of Mrs. Nancy Anderson in the early 1970s and has continued each Christmas Eve since that time.” 

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Now things have changed a bit since those first celebrations, such as the date on which the event takes place. But the ceremony itself pretty much remains the same. 

“We continue the service, although not always on Christmas Eve proper,” said Bethel United Methodist member CB Morgan. “I recall (those early services) as I routinely attended Bethel during that time.” 

Morgan also remembers the ceremony’s creator, then Nancy Anderson and later Nancy Haga. In addition to the many things she’s known for in Prince Edward County, such as serving more than 33 years with the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad and working as the inaugural Christmas Mother for the Farmville area, Haga taught Sunday School for more than 58 years. 

“Nancy was my Sunday School teacher, Cub Scout Den Mother and Pee Wee baseball coach,” Morgan said. 

Now Morgan and the rest of the Bethel congregation continue to celebrate the Christmas season with this decades old tradition that Haga started. And they invite the rest of the community to join in on this coming Sunday. Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 3551 Andersonville Road in Dillwyn.