Religions and Spirituality

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Holiday Celebrations at Unitarian Church

"Hanging of the Greens" services will be held December 13.
The Children's Pageant will take place at 4:30 p.m. on December 24.
Candlelight illuminates Christmas Eve services, which will take place at 7 and 9 p.m.

A do-it-yourself Winter Solstice celebration where the congregation crafts evergreen garlands and fixes them on railings outside the building and on the sanctuary balcony kicks off the holiday season at The Unitarian Church in Summit, 4 Waldron Avenue (at Springfield Avenue).

The public is warmly invited to the annual Hanging of the Greens services at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. on December 13,  a Christmas Eve children’s pageant at 4:30 p.m. December 24 and two additional Christmas Eve services at 7 and 9 p.m. Carols will be sung and candles lit at all three Christmas Eve services.

“We welcome newcomers to our holiday celebrations,” says Rev. Emilie Boggis, Minister of Congregational Life. “But we urge everyone to come early, especially on Christmas Eve, because it’s sometimes very crowded.”

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Congregation member Candice Chaleff introduced the Hanging of the Greens service more than a decade ago as an opportunity for children and adults to work together to decorate the sanctuary with natural greens in a yearly celebration of the Winter Solstice.

During the event, part of the congregation leaves the sanctuary to assemble the garlands and work on crafts while others remain in their seats to learn a holiday song. Then the roles switch. Near the end of the hour, members carry the long garlands outside or into the sanctuary while the congregation sings “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly.”

The morning can get a bit chaotic, admits Senior Interim Minister Rev. Terry Sweetser, but “everyone loves the tradition, and at the end, the air is full of the wonderful aroma of balsam and

Rehearsals for the Christmas Eve pageant begin in early December, with children of the congregation playing the roles of shepherds, angels and Mary and Joseph. The late afternoon candlelight service includes a retelling of the Christmas story with carols and readings and culminates with the much-awaited entrance of Santa Claus.

The 7 and 9 p.m. services, which do not have a pageant, feature carol singing, readings and special music by Sam Sadigursky on saxophone and flute. Music director Mitchell Vines plays the organ and piano and coordinates the music.

On December 27, Vines will lead the single Sunday service at 10 a.m., with choir members reading poetry and singing in solos, duets and small groups.

All newcomers to the holiday services are invited to return for information sessions with the ministers and other staff on January 3 and 17 at 10:30 a.m. Regular Sunday services are held at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m.

The Unitarian Church in Summit draws members from various religious and cultural backgrounds who join together in their individual quests for truth and meaning. Our mission is to be a radically inclusive religious community that feeds the human spirit and heals the world. We are a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

For more information, call (908) 273-3245 or visit


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