FCOG prepared to present 20th edition of Living Christmas Tree

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you haven't noticed, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with the Home for the Holidays parade scheduled for tonight, and the free tickets will be available beginning Monday for the 20th edition of the Living Christmas Tree (LCT) at the First Church of God in Punxsutawney.

"In 20 years, the Living Christmas Tree has been performed to over 60,000 people from Punxsutawney and the surrounding area," said Mark Kephart, Living Christmas Tree director.

Kephart said that the LCT is a team effort by many members of the church congregation.

"Everyone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in, which is what gives it the life," he said.

Kephart said if only four people had to do everything, it would never had made it this far.

There have been only three years when the LCT wasn't presented for various reasons, he said.

"The current tree structure is the second one; the first one was made of wood and was replaced several years ago, as it began to show its age," Kephart said, adding that the steel structure is less of a challenge which can be constructed in one day and two to three days fully decorated.

Kephart said the original wooden structure took almost two weeks to construct in the beginning.

He said the current computer lighting system from Midlite, which is run by Ken Diem, is the third generation lighting system.

"The other two were another computer-controlled DOS system and a manual lighting board, which consisted of homemade light switches," Kephart said.

"With the programming capability of this new software, it is much less of a challenge and is specifically designed to operate LCTs throughout the country," he said.

Kephart said this year's musical is entitled "Changed by a Baby Boy," written by Lari Goss, and throughout the musical, the theme is that Jesus Christ not only changed the world in the time he came and lived on the earth, but has changed all of humanity and all of eternity.

"There's no way people could have known how that little baby was going to change the world as he did," he said.

"This is a work that celebrates his birth and what it means to each and every one of us," Kephart said, adding that this year's musical has a southern gospel slant with several lively and upbeat songs.

"It's a work that does that message justice, the baby that came into the world with a lot of excitement, joy and the wonder of that event and 
what it means to each one of us," he said.

"I think God uses these presentations to touch people and impact their lives," Kephart said, adding that people who've attended those performances have communicated that throughout 
the years.

He said the free tickets for the LCT will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the First Church of God in Punxsutawney at the church office on Skyview Drive in Young Township.

Call the church at 938-6670 during those hours to reserve your tickets for this year's presentations.