Ecumenical evening offers lessons and carols

Singers from Karen Baptist Church of Syracuse perform at the Dec. 3 celebration. - PHOTO COURTESY ROBERT BILLS

Various cultures and traditions on display at St. Vincent de Paul

Submitted by Carl M. Oropallo

  On Dec. 3, St. Vincent de Paul Church in Syracuse held its annual Multi-Cultural Celebration of Lessons and Carols, an Advent Evening of Prayer. The celebration draws upon lessons common to the whole of Christianity leading to the birth of Christ. For 20 years, the church has evolved its program to fit the community it serves.

   This 90-minute para-liturgical service serves a dual purpose: elimination of the emphasis on consumerism at the start of Advent and concentration on the prophetic coming of the Messiah.

   Over 14 churches of various denominations, traditions, and cultures were invited to proclaim in readings and song the spiritual preparation that Advent has historically represented — an opportune time to join in an ecumenical spirit. 

   Readers of lessons and traditional carols came from St. Vincent de Paul Church; St. Augustine Church, Baldwinsville; Karen Baptist Church, Syracuse; St. James’ Episcopal Church, Skaneateles; and the Reformed Church of Syracuse. Other participants were the South Sudanese faith community, Congolese singers and dancers, and the Hispanic community. Deacon Michael Colabufo opened with prayer. Other clergy were present.

   Dr. Joan Hillsman and the Syracuse Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America performed  gospel music. The Light of the World Dancers reverently presented the Advent season with precision dance. Harpist Gail Rupert Lyons, a professor emeritus at Onondaga Community College and Syracuse University and a former Syracuse Symphony performer, has been a longtime participant in this service.

   Over 150 were present to listen, pray, and join in community singing. Those present commented on the quality of the participants and the emphasis on the meaning of Advent.

   A light supper followed where fellowship among the various attendees was enjoyed.

   Carl M. Oropallo is a member of St. Vincent’s Liturgy Committee and the  producer of Lessons and Carols.