Christmas in Community

FOSA Christmas Paegant

Christmas in Community
Annual Pageant Shares the Joyous Sights and Sounds of the Season
By Amy Morgan

Are you longing for the Christmas season? Eager to recapture hope and joy diminished over the past 18 months? Look no farther than The Fellowship of San Antonio in your Stone Oak community, where the show will go on – the Christmas pageant show that is. This year marks the 15th year the church has offered the seasonal celebration. Even the pandemic last year did not keep The Fellowship from safely sharing the gift of the musical message with those who attended or watched via livestream.

“For some people, watching the show is their Christmas,” said Music Director Michael Sanford, who’s served at The Fellowship since it opened 19 years ago. “Many had been so isolated and were hungry for the message and hope Christmas music brings. We were grateful we were able to bring it safely to the community.”

This year, A San Antonio Christmas will be performed live three times the weekend of December 11-12. Michael expects audience size will reflect the hundreds that have begun attending The Fellowship in person since the sanctuary reopened in the summer of 2020.

Like The Fellowship’s weekly services, under the helm of Lead Pastor Royce Smith,
the church does plan to livestream the production so those who aren’t able to attend in person won’t miss out completely. Another benefit of livestream – out of town friends and relatives, and especially those with restricted mobility, can also join in.

The Fellowship’s Christmas pageant format is modeled after the famed Radio City Music Hall production. The first half entertains, with numbers featuring Santa, snowflakes, carolers, dancers —all the fun and wonder of a traditional Christmas extravaganza. Sometimes even a cast member’s pet makes a cameo appearance.

The second act pivots to retell the Bethlehem story of Jesus’ birth, complete with a heavenly host of angels played by The Fellowship’s Children’s Choir. A live donkey named Oreo has carried Mary and the baby Jesus to the manger for the past seven years. The musicians who perform during weekly church services will be joined by others, including professionals from the Heart of Texas Concert Band, Michael said.

“It’s a cast of volunteers giving their best, with what I think are very impressive results,” he said. “People are so gracious and grateful.” The Fellowship’s leadership team recognizes the impact music can make to uplift and encourage.

“We are interested in telling the story of how a God who loves us came to the world… to bring something joyous, something spiritual,” Michael said. He designs the program to inspire reconnection with cherished memories of past holidays.

“I’m a traditionalist – I love pulling in Christmas carols people know and love and then mixing in newer music,” he said. “Whether it’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town or Silent Night, music touches your heart and soul.”

Choir President Renee Ives Johnson, Michael’s right hand for the past decade, oversees production details. On November 15, a team will begin building the backdrop that is 50 feet across and stands 20 feet high from the floor, graced by more than 10,000 twinkling Christmas lights. The scene is set with snow and Christmas trees and comes to life when the characters don the stage.

“People are so interested and want to be part of our program,” Michael added. “We couldn’t do it without all the volunteers building the stage, getting the set ready, working on costumes or lighting — the whole church pitches in. They even feed us while we’re working!

“We are making a huge investment in people having a good experience,” he continued.

Check the website at thefellowshipofsa.org to determine seating and availability. The Fellowship’s sanctuary is large enough to keep patrons appropriately distanced. There will be space and time to accommodate all. Performances are slated for December 11 at 7 p.m., and 2:30 and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, December 12.
“This is one of the most joyful and uplifting things I have ever done,” Michael said. “When the last program is over, everyone wishes there was one more.”

Come and recapture the joy and wonder of Christmas. Bring a friend and share the online link with a loved one who might otherwise miss out.