Slate Magazine Features Singing Christmas Tree

The popular online magazine, Slate, sponsored by the Washington Post, features a story about the dominance of big extravagant singing Christmas Trees in churches.

They trace the roots (as we know) back to Belhaven College’s first singing Christmas tree in 1933.  Next year will be our 80th performance, and we’re hopeful of finding a way for many of our alumni to come back and participate in this historic occassion.

You can read the full story on Slate HERE, but below are a couple of excerpts:

Across the country, churches will soon be groaning at full capacity as millions of Americans, from the deeply devout to the twice-a-year attendees, pack their local congregations to participate in a Christmas Eve service. But this month, some of those churches will also present what has become a tradition in the modern evangelical megachurch: the Singing Christmas Tree. In these productions, church choirs perform a musical celebration while standing inside an enormous Christmas tree platform that reaches to the ceiling, often accompanied by extravagant light shows, dancing church members, and sometimes even fireworks. Displaying all the kitsch and some of the camp of your favorite Broadway musical, Singing Christmas Tree pageants represent the quintessence of the modern megachurch experience: oversized, ostentatious, and a strange blend of the sacred and the secular.

This is the paragraph about Belhaven

Like many of the showier elements of the modern megachurch, the Singing Christmas Tree had humble origins. The first Singing Christmas Tree likely took place in 1933 when a music professor at Belhaven College, a Christian liberal arts college in Jackson, Miss., teamed up with an engineer to craft a small wooden tree frame for the school’s all-female choir to stand in as it performed a series of Christmas carols. The concert took place outside so that members of the community could enjoy the event, and outdoor Singing Christmas Trees began to pop up on college campuses and in city parks in other cities throughout the South during the 1940s and ‘50s.

New York Times Best Seller

Can I shamelessly brag on my younger brother a bit?

Les is an author of 50+ books, and this week his newest title was ranked #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in the Paperback Advice category.

The book is titled “The Hour That Matters Most” and is about the importance of families making the evening meal together a high priority.

Great to have a Christian author make that list…..and even nicer when it’s my brother.  I’m proud of him.

Two Interesting Statistics: College Costs – Unemployment Contrast

1.  PUBLIC University costs have doubled in the last ten years, with the average cost now $16,140 – equaling about the cost of a private education at Belhaven next year of $18,420.

But we are even less expensive than the public schools since most of our students also receive some scholarship assistance that lowers our cost.

Plus, there are other important factors most families don’t consider about cost until it’s too late.

I did a short video a while ago outlining the 5 reasons why Belhaven is affordable

  1. Low costs: Belhaven University has been named a “Best Buy” college for 9 consecutive years.
  2. Scholarships and Aid: 90% of Belhaven students receive financial aid.
  3. Students will complete their degree on time.
  4. Savings add up in the “hidden costs.”
  5. Value: the most important financial investment of your life.

2.  The US Department of Labor reports there is a sharp contrast in the unemployment rate between college graduates and others.

  • National Average:    9.1%
  • College Graduates:  4.5%
  • No High School:   14.7%

94 Years of Change

Some friends of the University just sent me a little brochure from 1917 that was promoting Jackson, Mississippi, and featured Belhaven College.

Here is the summary of Jackson — a bit of a change in 94 years – and interesting to see how some of the things  featured in a publicity brochure of a century ago are things we just take for granted now.

Jackson 1917

You Can Encourage Better TV and Movies

The Christian Film and Television Commission, and their Movie Guide (www.MovieGuide.org), has done three decades of wonderful work to encourage film and television studios to produce more programing that builds up our values and faith rather than tear it down.

Dr. Ted Baehr, who is a good friend of Belhaven, has led this effort. His daughter Evy is a graduate of Belhaven and now does many of the red carpet interviews for the Movie Guide.

Ted’s research and influence speaks to what matters most in Hollywood – the box office – and he has proven to the influencers of the film industry that family friendly films always make more money.

The Annual Movie Guide Awards show will be broadcast on the Hallmark Movie Channel on Monday May 16th.  Help get the word out about this broadcast and how you can encourage your church to participate in assuring that we, who say we care about Christian values in the media, will actually support the production of this show by tuning in.

Visit (www.MovieGuide.org/c/info/help.html) to find out more.