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Church gives gift of Living Tree

Typically, Christmas presents are left under the tree, but First Baptist Church-Lawton Fort Sill presents its Living Christmas Tree as a gift to the community.

This year's presentations will mark the 36th year for the church's gift of a 100-voice choir singing from a 39-foot metal tree covered with 100,000 computer-controlled lights synchronizing with the music. Each year the church presents a new program with music, full orchestra and drama cast. This year's program, "At Last Noel," is a celebration of the miraculous, the fulfillment of ancient promises, which is the coming of the Messiah.

Mike Neff, music minister, believes the Living Christmas Tree is a "wonderful" opportunity for the church to share the good news and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The Living Christmas Tree is the tool for us to convey the gospel message; that's why we do it," Neff said. "So it's important for us as a church that we've already been praying for people as they come to hear the good news and be refreshed, renewed, encouraged, that we can challenge them on their spiritual walk  that's why we do what we do. And we make it free to the community. It's our gift from First Baptist Church to the community."

Neff said each year the four performances combined attract 3,200 to 3,500 people. And even though the Living Christmas Tree has occurred annually for over three decades, he's still astounded by the number of hands raised when the audience is asked each night if it's their first time attending the Living Christmas Tree.

"It has become a wonderful family tradition in the Lawton-Fort Sill community," Neff said. "It's still amazing to me when we ask for people to raise their hands if this is their first time, how many people still raise their arms. There's still a lot of new folks that come."

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