While the church and staff of Highland Baptist Church put the final touches on what will be the 33rd annual Singing Christmas Tree program; music minister Franklin Denham says all the work goes to promote one message.
“We present the story of Christmas. We use the tree, the orchestra, and the singers as a tool to present that message. The message would be that a child was born; but the reason he was born. And that’s to sacrifice himself for us.” Denham said.
Denham said the birth of the Singing Christmas Tree came with the decision to move to Meridian to serve.
“In 1978 highland baptist church came to visit me in Knoxville, Tennessee as a potential interview. I told them I had this dream,” Denham said. "Do you think your church would be open to doing something like this? Tom McDaniel, the man who designed the lighting for this told me, ‘our church can do anything you lead them to do.’”
What followed was over 30 years of the special Christmas program. Denham says, however, it changes every year.
“Some folks think because they’ve been to the tree, that they’ve been to the tree. They don’t realize that the music changes every year. The only song we are repeating is I have seen the light.” Denham explained.
While the Singing Christmas Tree enters its 33rd year; Denham is saying goodbye to the program and his beloved congregation after 39 years of service. He hopes they take only one thing away from his tenure.
“The music can be perfect; but if they don’t understand that you love them, it pales in significance. We’re not just singing songs; we’re touching lives for eternity.” He said.