The chancel of Lewisburg Chapel United Methodist Church is decorated with what appears to be a beautiful Christmas tree.
It fills the space from floor to ceiling and is entirely covered with white and gold ornaments, illuminated by little white lights.
But longtime members Debbie Bradford and Linda Wright explain this is not just a pretty tree to look at during the service. It is not even a Christmas tree -- it is a "Chrismon" tree. Each of the ornaments is a Christian symbol. Even the colors have meaning: white refers to our Lord's purity and gold refers to his majesty and glory. The white lights are a reminder that Christ is the light of the world.
The Methodist Chapel's tree becomes more meaningful and special every year as new ornaments are added. Members who have passed away are remembered as the ornaments they made are put on the tree again.
When they started the tradition in 1981, every family in the congregation made at least one cross for the tree. The ornaments are made in every kind of material from sequins to Styrofoam, beads to cross stitch, all in white and gold except for the Crown of Thorns, which is made of a real locust branch twisted into a circle.
The Chrismon idea originated at Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Va., where Frances Spencer decorated the first Chrismon tree with her handmade ornaments in 1957. Chrismon ornaments are not bought or sold, but Chrismons is a trademark of Ascension Lutheran Church.
Visitors are welcome to view the tree during any Sunday in December. Services are at 9:30 a.m. The church is located at 503 7th Ave. North.