Historic Christ Church held “The Joy of Christmas — Carols for a Cause” on Dec. 18.
Standing solid on the southeast corner of Johnson Square since 1733 and proudly wearing the title of Georgia’s first house of worship, I am psyched to be able to attend Christ Church’s third annual singing celebration.
Mills Fleming and I have to stop meeting like this! Greeting me with a smile, his camera and a pose with Dale Critz Sr., I take a spot between the massive stucco columns and attempt to keep up with the media man’s pictures of church members Catherine, Joe and Caroline Gussler.
With guest and church members arriving faster than I can snap pics, I take a second to make sure I get a photo of world-famous sociologist, author, talk show host and entertainer, Bertice Berry. Pausing in her usher duties to pose with Mills and Dale, I make a mental note to catch up with this cool female after the service.
While posing best-looking group Khoi Vo, Carmela Spinelli, Silvio Trioni, Kristen Raizada Vo and Dan Rizzo on the top steps, I see Cathy Conder Rodgers sneaking up for a hug. The holistic health coach is looking uber fit as she and her husband Bill join their grandson William inside.
Next, the always dashing Lukejohn Dickson smiles with brunette beauty Eva Fedderly, Debbie and Westan Hughes hug Anna Lavely while lovely Letta Sneed gets a quick modeling session with her debonair husband David.
Next “world shipper of freight and shoe collector” Karen Oelschig insists I take a family pic of her attractive family, Stella, Christian and Kurt, while Dale Critz Sr. greets his grandson, John, who is on winter holiday from Trinity-Pawling School in New York.
Next, a group of girls scurries by but Mills corrals the RISE Chorales into a group pic before we both head inside the capacity-filled church. Immediately spotting Tim Leary’s spiked pink hair, I look for his daughter Shawnessey in the Savannah’s Children Choir but spot Sylvia Severance instead.
I love following Sylvia and her husband Jake’s travels! After hearing about an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20 for The Women’s March on Washington, I promise to catch up with the fascinating female after I sneak up front and snag a spot in a chair on the outside aisle.
What happens next is spine-tingling! Savannah Brass Quartet sounds the trumpets and 900 people rise to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” What a truly glorious sound, and it only gets better as the Savannah Children’s Choir, the Holiday Harmonies and RISE Chorales raise the roof!
Sitting on the sidelines, I get a great view of crowd reactions and have to admit that Beth Logan, Ben Burrell and David Shephard’s blissful expressions genuinely reflect what we are all hearing. However, none of us are prepared for the category five voice of Ann Marie McPhail.
After singing the African-American spiritual “Is There Anybody Here?” the crowd surges up for the first of many standing ovations, and the joyous mood continues when Christ Church’s the Rev. Michael S. White announces that Rosalie Morris has Christmas bells on each aisle waiting to giving to everyone.
Slender and classy, Rosalie is getting bombarded with hugs and thanks but manages to tell me that she has given out 5,000 bells since Sept. 11, 2001. With bells ringing all around me, I head outside, where an impromptu social hour seems to be happening.
I see everyone from Emmaus House “angel” John Wayne Harden to Queensborough Bank’s Mike English, see SCC’s Roger Moss get bombarded with congratulations and look for gorgeous harpist Kristin King but miss her due to over-talking with Christmas-clad Jennifer Giddens and Chris Sweat.
Leaving the hallowed halls of the “Mother Church of Georgia,” I thank Mills for continuing to teach me correct religious vernacular and I glance back to snap a visual memory before thanking God for Christ Church practicing what they preach: “Grace, Dignity, Joy, Humility and Forgiveness.” Merry Christmas to the greatest city in the south — Savannah!
Contact Bunny at 912-844-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.