From an interactive visit to Bethlehem to musical dramas to an award-winning gospel singing group, local churches have a lot to offer in the way of Christmas celebrations over the next two weeks.
Spring Hill Bible Church will present its Christmas program, "We Believe," during the service at 6 p.m. Sunday.
According to assistant pastor Mark George, if you are looking for an old-fashioned Christmas program featuring people of all ages celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, this is a program you should see.
"The evening will begin with songs of the season sung by the Pee Wee Kids Club," George said. "The youth group will then participate by singing songs and presenting a short drama about the meaning of Christmas."
A special sermon will also be presented by a member of the youth group.
The highlight of the evening will be a presentation of the Christmas musical A Song Was Born at Christmas by the church's Christmas choir. The musical is arranged with a mixture of new songs and traditional carols and hymns combined into medleys.
"If you are looking for hope, please join us and observe a musical celebration of the Christmas season in which people honor and praise the name of Jesus," George said.
The church is at 15449 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. Call (352) 544-5644.
Elsewhere, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 6193 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will present a Christmas concert by its praise band at 6:30 p.m. today. Admission is one unwrapped new toy to be distributed by Behind the Stone Ministries to children in Hernando County. Refreshments will be provided. Call (352) 683-9016.
Eden Baptist Church, 22308 Lake Lindsey Road, north of Brooksville, will present a Christmas cantata, O Holy Night, at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Christmas story will be told in music and narration using familiar carols and hymns along with new songs by Chris Tomlin, Geron Davis, Sue C. Smith and Russell Mauldin. There will be refreshments after the cantata. Call (352) 796-3855.
Northcliffe Baptist Church is offering two Christmas programs. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" will be presented by the church choir at 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday.
At 6 p.m. Dec. 19, the church's former worship leader, Tim Kaufman, will return to give a Christmas concert. Kaufman has sung the national anthem for the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. He has been a frequent guest on Charles Stanley's In Touch television program and is currently touring the country singing his signature patriotic song, I Believe in America.
The concert is free; no tickets are required.
The church is at 10515 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 683-5882.
Gospel singer James McDuffy Jr. will present a medley of Christmas songs with audience participation at 10:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday at Faith Baptist Church, 175 Springtime St., Spring Hill.
The church will also present a free Christmas concert and drama at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 19. Call (352) 686-5060.
At 7 p.m. Dec. 18 the Grammy Award-nominated and Dove Award-winning gospel singing quartet Ernie Haase and Signature Sound will make a return appearance at First United Methodist Church in Spring Hill.
"We are bringing them back due to an overwhelming response from those who attended the March concert," said special events chairman Steve McManaway.
During the March concert, Haase told the audience that the group would love to return for a Christmas concert. McManaway thought that might be too soon.
"Over the next two or three weeks, my opinion changed," he said. "We had much more of a response from the community than we received from (previous celebrity concerts). So, I contacted Ernie, and they still had the 18th open. They're only making two stops in Florida on the Christmas tour, so we feel honored to have them back."
The concert will also feature the children's choir and the church's 90-voice chancel choir, accompanying the quartet on several songs.
Tickets cost $15 to $25 and will be available at the doors, which open at 6 p.m. Call (352) 683-2600. The church is at 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill.
"A Night in Bethlehem" will be offered from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 19 by First Baptist Church of Hernando Beach, 4446 Shoal Line Blvd.
The church will be transformed into a replica of Bethlehem, and children will be able to participate in hands-on activities. Everyone will get a glimpse of what life was like the night Jesus was born.
"Come on out for some Christmas fun and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas," the church said in a news release.
The event is free. Call (352) 596-2211.
"Christmastime" will be a series of Christmas songs presented at 6 p.m. Dec. 19 by the 45-voice choir of Brooksville Wesleyan Church.
"The concert will include a nice variety of Christmas music. It will vary from the upbeat Jesus, What a Wonderful Child to the contemplative Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," said the Rev. Raymond Phaup, minister of music.
Accompaniment for this free event includes piano, organ, flute, hand bells and CDs.
"Everyone is invited to attend," Phaup said.
The church is at 8168 Jasmine Drive, Brooksville. Call (352) 799-3066.