New pastor brings change
The Christmas message at Lansing First Southern Baptist Church has a different tone this holiday season thanks to new pastor John Leonard.
Leonard worked with choir director Sandy Wood and Kay Luna to create a more contemporary and musical message than the typical sermon for the Christmas choir presentation Sunday.
"It helps us celebrate Christmas, explain and help everyone understand what Christmas really means," said Karen Laurence, a Sunday school teacher at the church.
In past years, the children of the church have prepared the annual presentation. This year, under Leonard's direction, the children performed one song, the adult choir sang both traditional and contemporary Christmas carols and Laurence performed a skit. Between presentations, Leonard delivered his sermon in pieces.
The break in the routine helped to convey the specialness of the Christmas season, Laurence said. Usually the church does not sing as much and the pastor's message is not broken up in sections like it was on Sunday.
The church will celebrate Christmas Eve with a candlelight service at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The congregation will sing traditional hymns such as "Silent Night."
In addition to celebrating Christmas within its doors, the church also took its message to those who couldn't make it, Laurence said. Sunday evening, the choir and church members sang carols around the community and visited Twin Oaks Retirement Community.
Leonard is a bi-vocational pastor, which means he has a full-time job in addition to church duties. During the week, he works in human relations at a bank. Before taking the job in Lansing, he was a pastor at Westside Family in Shawnee.
Since his arrival in May, he and his wife, Silvia, have been a good fit for the community, said Laurence, who was also on the pastor selection committee.
"He is the type of preacher who preaches from the Bible in a non-condemning way," Laurence said. "He and his wife are very loving and work well with people. They give way over 100 percent."