Free Community Christmas concert will raise funds for local food pantries

© 2018-Ogle County Life

MOUNT MORRIS – There is a singular holiday event so compelling that it draws musicians and vocalists from all over northwest Illinois to perform, for free, year after year.

The annual community Christmas cantata will be held Sunday, Dec. 3, at 3 p.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church, 308 E. Brayton Road, Mount Morris.

 Since its inception in 2004, the concert has been offered free to the public, with proceeds from donations given to local charities. For the eleventh year, the beneficiaries will be food pantries Loaves and Fish in Mount Morris and Life-Line in Oregon, which have each received, on average, about $500 each year since 2010. 

Performers who return year after year say it puts them in the holiday spirit and that the hard work and long hours are worth it.

“I look forward to working with people from all different churches,” said one vocalist. “We’re here to give a little something back to the community and raise money for the food pantries. To me, it represents the best of the season. And, when we end with this big choir and orchestra performing the Hallelujah chorus it gives me chills!”

“It reminds me of the real reason that we celebrate Christmas,” said another. “It’s a holiday tradition that I don’t want to miss.” 

Singers and instrumentalists represent many churches in the region, including Leaf River Baptist; Rochelle United Methodist; St. John Lutheran of Ashton; Faith Discovery Church of Polo; Van Brocklin United Methodist in Freeport; Christ Our Savior Lutheran in Dixon; Trinity Lutheran, Disciples United Methodist, Church of the Brethren, and Evangelical Free in Mt. Morris; United Methodist, Freedom Lutheran, St. Mary Catholic, and Lighthouse United Methodist in Oregon.     

Nelson Miller, who originated the community Christmas cantata in 2004, is again serving as music coordinator and producer.

For the second year, Christy Lewis, will direct the concert. Lewis, a Mount Morris alum, is an accomplished musician with a BFA in Music who taught music in public schools before earning two Masters degrees and concluding her career in education as a school administrator. She has directed the choir rehearsals, accompanied by Karen Larson on piano. Oregon band director Andy Eckardt has rehearsed the musicians, who will perform under the direction of Lewis at the concert. Winter Winds, the instrumental group accompanying the choir, is comprised of flutes, clarinets, French horns, trumpets, trombone, harp, percussion and piano. 

The public is encouraged to arrive early for a pre-concert performance by the Blackhawk Brass, directed by Andy Eckardt, which has performed at this concert for several years. There will be a special number by harpist Kit Reynolds during the intermission. 

Invitation to a Miracle, by Joseph Martin, tells the timeless story of the birth of Christ through poetic narration, scripture passages and creatively arranged carols. The concert will conclude with attendees invited to join the choir to perform Handel's Hallelujah chorus, a tradition begun in 2004 that remains an annual highlight.

The public is invited to a reception in the Fellowship Hall of the church, following the concert. 

If questions, call the Trinity Lutheran Church office at 815-734-6354 or visit


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