Monday, 11 December 2017 05:27

Historic Retlaw Church hosting 25th annual Candlelight Christmas Service

Written by  Demi Knight
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For the twenty-fifth year, the Retlaw Historical Society are kicking off the festive season with their annual Retlaw candlelight Christmas service.

On Dec. 18, the beautifully historic church is home to the service that brings together people from not only the community, but across the whole province for an evening of celebration.
It was in 1992 when a small group of people toured the church with hopes to restore the site to its former glory.
Over the past twenty-five years, the society was formed, without realizing the tremendous effect holding these Christmas services would have on this historical site.
“The church was the reason that historical society came to be,” says secretary of the Retlaw Historical Society, Terry Franz.
“Now we have people coming from all over to attend our Christmas service. It’s a pretty big deal, especially since it’s in the middle of nowhere and some people say that when they come to Retlaw that’s really the beginning of their Christmas season.”
With the church turning one hundred next year, Franz says that keeping the facility in its original form is imperative to the society and one of the main reasons so many people have come out to visit the treasure over the years.
With original floors and ceilings, the church was revived with some tender love and care in 1992 by members of the now-historical society, who cleaned the area and replaced broken windows that leant to inside disarray.
However, to date the society has cared for the church without changing its original dynamic, meaning even though the facility is home to these grand Christmas services and many weddings and other large events over the years, the church still bares no electricity or heat for its visitors.
Franz also noted although in good condition today, that in the past the society has organized parties where volunteers form within the community came to help repair major damages to the church such as the siding and windows on the facility.
“We do the maintenance throughout the year. But the last main service that the church had previous to ours was in the early 1930’s or 40’s and it was abandoned since then,” says Franz.  “So, we do ongoing cleaning with the help of volunteers but this year we didn’t have to do any maintenance. The foundation is good, and the building is good especially for its age, and although it did have a generator at one point the building still has no electricity or heat.”
However, the lack of electricity and heat has no negative effect on people coming out in the winter months to enjoy the annual Christmas service, but instead it lends to the historic atmosphere that so many travel into Retlaw to enjoy each year.
“Since we have no power or heat, the service is laid out each year with so just candles for light, and it’s so unique because everyone comes with their winter gear and blankets,” says Franz of the hundred or so people that come year after year to attend the event with high spirits.
With the church being multidenominational, over the years different pastors have also come to lead the service, with choirs, skits and speakers being presented during the services too over the years.
This year the twenty-fifth annual Christmas event will see Pastor Jeff Frostad lead the service, with music provided by the Copperfield Farms Choir and pianist Marian Parkinson-Howg as well as hot chocolate and cookies for all. With the service being known as unique in the historic community of Retlaw, Franz notes it’s exciting each year to see not only returning faces of local community members but the reach the service has gained over the years as people travel from not only across the country, but internationally to experience this historic landmark.
The 25th annual Retlaw Candlelight Christmas service will be hosted on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Retlaw Union/United Church located on Centre Street in Retlaw. All are welcome to attend.

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