Local church makes one of Wilmington’s biggest Christmas spectaculars virtual

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — How do you fit a 25 foot tree onto a 31 inch screen? Pine Valley Baptist Church knows, and this year, they’re making one of the biggest Wilmington Christmas spectaculars virtual.

Their 25 foot Living Christmas Tree is normally filled with 25,000 lights and a 40 person choir.

“There was just this huge audible, ‘ahhhhhhhh’, like they were so shocked,” said Amy York about the first time they lit the new tree. “Because they’d never seen anything like it before. It’s something unique that nobody else does.”

Pine Valley Baptist has trimmed the tree every Christmas for years.

“I’ve been here 11 years,” said Scott York, the worship pastor, “and they’ve been doing it for years before I got here.”

It was a new hour-long show each year, featuring drama, music, and the enormous tree that drew in 400-500 people a night, according to Pastor Bryan Blackwell.

“So it’s a massive monster that usually takes up the entire stage,” said Blackwell. “But this year, it’s oddly absent.”

With COVID-19 threatening so many in the Cape Fear this year, Pine Valley decided it best to keep the tree in storage and break out the home movies instead.

York started preparing for this Living Christmas Tree months in advance, editing together highlights of Living Christmas Trees past and individual choral recordings of new songs. He’s adapting a time-honored tradition into a safer format.

“It’s been a long, tedious process,” York admits, “but I think it’s going to be worth it in the end.”

Since March, New Hanover County has had almost 7,500 Coronavirus cases, a number that worries Pastor Bryan Blackwell for his older congregants.

“We’re just trying to keep people safe I think that falls along our mission to love God but also to love people,” said Blackwell. “And it still provides the opportunity to get the message of Christmas out without having the risk of people gathering in a time, especially when the numbers are so high.”

Hopefully encouraging others to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in a familiar, safe, comforting way.

“There have been so many things that have been abnormal about this year,” Amy York explained. “And so many disappointments. And we didn’t want to bring another disappointment. There are people looking forward to this all year. And so we wanted to be able to provide that for them in a safe way.”

If you don’t want to miss out on the fun, Pine Valley is posting this year’s Living Christmas Tree on their website and Facebook December 13 at 7 pm.

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