Clay Hill to host annual ‘Old Christmas’ service

Published 6:36 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012

For nearly two decades, “Old Christmas” has been celebrated in Pike County on Jan. 6 at historic Clay Hill Church, making it one of only a handful for Old Christmas celebrations still held.

Mountain folks and plain folks celebrate Old Christmas but, other than that, the celebrations are few and far between said, the Rev. Michael Lawler, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, the host of the annual non-denominational service.

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a historic celebration of Christmas,” Lawler said. “January 6 is the Epiphany and is celebrated as the day on which the Wise Men arrived with gifts for the Christ Child. We celebrate ‘Old Christmas’ at historic Clay Hill Church with a service of scriptures and songs. It is a beautiful, peaceful and meaningful way to bring the Christmas season to a close.”

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“Old Christmas at Clay Hill” is a lamplight service and the church is decorated with the offerings of Mother Nature – pine, cedar and holly.

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill is celebrated in much the same way as it was 100 years ago,” Lawler said. “The music is played on acoustic instruments and the congregation is invited to join in the singing of the old carols of Christmas as the stories of both the birth of the Christ Child and the arrival of the Wise Men are being told through the scriptures.”

The service ends with the passing of the light of peace.

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill has become a tradition for many people and we invite those who haven’t been to this special Christmas service to join us,” Lawler said.

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill” begins at 6 p.m. and everyone is encouraged to dress warmly for the service at the historic church.

Hot apple cider and teacakes are served at the close of the service.

Clay Hill Church is located at Pronto. Directions from Troy are a left at the South Alabama Stockyards sign on Highway 231near Brundidge, a right at the dead-end and across the railroad tracks on County Road 4408. From Brundidge or Banks, turn off Highway 93 onto County Road 4408. The church is about a mile on the left.