Have faith: The busy season

Faith communities offer holiday events and time to reflect.

Director Hope O'Brien conducts the handbell choir at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury Christmas Concert. — Teresa Kruszewski

I always loved Advent as a kid — the calendar with tiny little chocolates inside those little doors you could open each day of the weeks leading up to Christmas. I loved St. Nicholas Day too, Dec. 6, when we’d wake up to find a small toy or gift in our shoe. As I got older (and older), the concept of Advent began to take shape, and I started to see it as waiting for an event that was beyond Santa, colorful lights, and red ribbon. No matter what faith tradition we adhere to, or if we don’t adhere to any particular religion, it’s a good idea for each of us to take time to sit in silence and be mindful about where our strength comes from and what it means to us — where do we find our peace and our hope, and what dreams do we have for our friends and family, for those we’ll never meet but care about just the same? Advent is a good time to do this.

Candles seem to burn brighter this time of year, when it’s cold and dark outside. Light some and sit in the stillness of December, the time in between shopping and baking, looking at bank balances and running out of wrapping paper. The great thing about the stillness is that it’s always there, and you can go back to it again and again.

All the Island faith communities likely have events going on this time of year, and I’m happy to share some of them here. If you’re reading this and your place of worship is not mentioned, please send any information you’d like to share for the next Have Faith, Dec. 21, to connie@mvtimes.com.


The First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven hosts its annual Christmas Tea and Shopping event, with baked goods and gift items for sale on Saturday, Dec. 16, beginning at 1 pm. The Serving Hands holiday food distribution takes place at the church’s parish house at 2 pm on Friday, Dec. 22.

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The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury hosts its Christmas Concert on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 3 pm. The choir, led by music director and organist William Peek, offers a program of Medieval and Renaissance choral music. The choir will be joined by guest musicians Jan Elliott and Molly Johnston. The concert will also include selections by the Bell Choir, under the direction of Hope O’Brien. Admission is $15, with free admission for students. Proceeds benefit the church music program. A reception will follow the concert.

Christmas Pageant rehearsals begin this weekend for the Christmas Eve performance at the Ag Hall at 5 pm.

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The Chilmark Community Church continues its Offerings of Music and Light series on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 5 pm. Island artists and musicians perform. Candle lighting and refreshments are served. Don’t forget, they’ve begun serving Community Suppers at the church as well: Tuesdays at 5:30 pm.

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The Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard hosts a special Sunday service on Dec. 17 at 4:30 pm. It’s a child- and family-friendly service with a reading of the poem “The Night Before Christmas” and a birthday celebration for someone special. That same evening at 7 pm, the Rev. Bill Clark leads the church’s traditional candlelight service titled this year, “Oh, Mary.”


St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church hosts an open house during Christmas in Edgartown on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 am to 2 pm. Join them for hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, and their famous Christmas meatball sandwiches, following the Edgartown Christmas Parade. On Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 5:30 pm, come to a Christmas singalong led by Griffin McMahon followed by a feast of goodies. Everyone is welcome to come.

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Good Shepherd Parish hosts special events this weekend. Bishop Edgar da Cunha will celebrate the Mass at 7 pm in Portuguese at St. Augustine’s on Saturday, Dec. 9, and on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 9 am, he’ll celebrate the traditional Sunday Mass. The parish’s annual Christmas Tea and Raffle takes place on Sunday, Dec. 10, from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is $5, and children come for free. This year’s Christmas raffle is a gift certificate for 100 gallons of home heating oil and a Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffeemaker. There will also be themed baskets, a 50-50 raffle, Christmas centerpieces, and grab bags for the children.

St. Elizabeth’s Church in Edgartown will be open for Christmas in Edgartown on Friday and Saturday.

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Trinity United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs offers special messages throughout Advent, including Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10 am, with the theme “Peace,” telling the story of when the angel meets Mary.


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The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center hosts a community Hanukkah celebration on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 pm with musical guests Deborah Strauss, Eric Johnson and the Shirat Hayam Choir, led by Peter Boak. Rabbi Caryn Broitman invites you to bring your menorah, eat some latkes, sing, and help the congregation light its outdoor menorah.


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On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Federated Church will host its annual Old-Fashioned Carol Sing at the 1828 Meetinghouse, decorated for the holidays. The program starts at 2 pm. Minister of music Peter R. Boak will take requests of your favorite Christmas songs and will accompany everyone on the piano while they sing. Music will be provided, and festive attire is suggested, not required. Following the free Carol Sing, light refreshments will be available. The event is part of Christmas in Edgartown, and is open to all ages.

Also on Sunday, the Federated Church hosts a Haiti Art Sale from 11:30 am to 1 pm. PeaceQuilts will have items for sale in the church’s parish house. Folk art, quilts, bags, unique handmade jewelry, and more will be for sale.