‘The start of Christmas’

Moorestown’s First United Methodist Church celebrates holiday.

Photo Credits: Christine Harkinson: Moorestown’s First United Methodist Church invites community members to attend Messiah Sing on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m.

Residents are welcome to join the 39th annual Messiah Sing on Dec. 5 at Moorestown’s First United Methodist Church, an event canceled last year because of COVID.

“It always amazes me how many first-time people come,” said music co-Director Donna Banes.

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Glenn Rodgers, former director of music, helped formulate the idea and will be the Messiah Sing’s organist.

This year’s event will be scaled down, with only the Christmas section of the oratorio musical work performed. The Hallelujah chorus will be the last song of the evening.

“It’s always the start of Christmas for me,” Banes noted. “I love it: Just the swell of music in here and it is (such) a community event.”

In its usual format, the church holds a reception for guests. This year, take home snack bags will be available to avoid crowding.

“It’s so (well) supported by (this) church as an outreach,” Banes explained. “It’s become a well-loved tradition; there’s nothing like it.”

Banes stepped into the role of music co-director for the church in 2017 and loves what she can share with residents through song.

“Just to share the love of music and (to) praise God,” she said. “We do all kinds of music, which is awesome.”

Banes handles all the traditional elements of the music while her co-director, Norm Dorrell, handles the contemporary sound.

“That (first) Messiah I conducted was very daunting .. but it (really) is a privilege and an honor to lead this work,” Banes noted. “There’s nothing like it. The sound that fills this room is phenomenal.”

People from all over come for the Messiah Sing.

“We have people that come from Pennsylvania, Delaware … We’ve had people (that) were in the area move up into the northeast and (come) back,” Banes said.

A resident of Mount Laurel, Banes was born and raised in the First United Methodist Church. She admires the tradition that runs throughout Moorestown.

“There’s (just) real history here … and community,” Banes said. “There’s young, old and everybody in between, so it’s (just) great.”

“It was a great place to grow up. It’s home.”

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