Festival of Lights
The Claremore Seventh-day Adventist Church’s annual Festival of Lights celebrated 15 years in December 2017. Harvey Gil was pastoring the rural church when he began the musical celebration of Christmas and in the last 15 years, it has grown to standing room only.
Each year, featured musical artists permeate the high-ceilinged sanctuary with deep voices, or sparkling instrumentals, depending on their forte. Some years, they are joined by other vocalists or the community orchestra which often includes students from Tulsa and Ozark Adventist Academies, and the Claremore High School Jazz Chorus. There is always a choir made up of youngsters and the mature singing together; there is always an orchestra, featuring the best beginners, the best of the best, and many in between; and there is always a devotional smack-dab in the middle, sharing Jesus with folks who may or may not know that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Gil began this growing outreach in 2002, eager to find a way to meld community members and church members in a night of sharing holiday joy and Jesus. He studied music in college and revels in this opportunity to direct an orchestra and lead the choir! Church members go all out to decorate the fellowship hall and provide finger foods for the performers and attendees. It is a beautiful reminder each December that warm hearts and hands can reach the community, evangelize, and share Jesus’ love.
Gil now pastors the Norman Seventh-day Adventist Church, but still travels the two hours to Claremore for one week of the year in preparation for his favorite event of the year.
By Caroline A. Fisher