By Joi Thomas, Special to the AFRO

Christmas time is finally here, the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and everyone is getting ready for the holiday. Time is spent in stores and online finding the perfect gift for that special someone. Children wait in anticipation of Christmas morning when they see their gifts under the tree. By normal circumstances, this seems like the most wonderful time of the year. However, many persons don’t have the means to celebrate this holiday. Instead of being a happy time of year, it can be a very somber time of year for those less fortunate.

Greater Harvest Baptist Church of Baltimore City has decided to be a blessing to those who need it this season. The Rev. Brent Brown, pastor of Greater Harvest explains why helping in this season is so important. “Greater Harvest has decided to help those less fortunate at Christmas because we thoroughly believe that God has blessed us to be a blessing. Greater Harvest is a blessed congregation! I teach our congregation that if you really want to measure how blessed you are, measure how much of a blessing you are being. Christmas is a hard time for those who are less fortunate and can even be for those who may operate in overflow, for many different reasons. During the time when we celebrate God gifting the world his Son, I contend his church should be gifting the world our reasonable service. “

This year Greater Harvest will be giving away 250 “goodie bags” full of toiletries for the homeless. They will also be giving away hats, scarfs, gloves, socks, and food baskets that include turkeys for Christmas dinner. The church began giving away food baskets under their previous pastor, the late Rev. Errol Gilliard. The outreach grew, and the evangelism and missionary ministries of the church began giving away hats, gloves, scarfs and socks to the homeless. This year the men’s ministry of the church added another layer to this effort by creating goodie bags filled with multiple hygiene items for the homeless.

Outreach is something Greater Harvest Church does year-round. Every month they feed a minimum of 250 people in the community and downtown areas. They have also offered numerous financial literacy workshops this year to the Franklin Square community to encourage them to become better with their finances. They also held a trunk or treat as a Halloween alternative this year for the children in the community.

Rev. Brown insists it is important for the church to be active in the community. “If we are going to follow the lead of Jesus Christ we must learn to be holistic Christians. Jesus did not simply preach to the multitude but after feeding them spiritually, he gave them food to eat. We must be concerned with the whole man.” If you would like to assist Greater Harvest in this effort, you can bring non perishable goods to the church before Dec. 22.  Monetary donations are being accepted for the goodie bags to ensure each bag is identical.

Greater Harvest Baptist Church is located at 1617 W. Saratoga Street. Services are held each Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Wednesdays at noon. For more information, call the church 410-945-2287.

Community Concert Choir of Baltimore Sings Christmas

More than 150 singers will present a full repertoire of Christmas music, including classical selections from Handel’s Messiah, traditional carols, Negro spirituals and gospel songs of the season when the community gathers, 5 p.m., Dec. 16 at the United House of Prayer for All People, 3401 Edgewood Street at Liberty Heights Avenue.

Although the choir is young in age, a mere eight years, its concerts have become legendary and draw celebrants from around the region.

“We are thrilled to sponsor again this Christmas concerts as a way to perpetuate the beautiful music that sets the tone for this season of love, joy and peace on earth,” said the Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton, senior pastor of the Open Church.

This program features choral music, guest soloists, organist W. Patrick Alston and pianist Marcus Smith, in collaboration with the choir’s director, Marco K. Merrick, the choir’s founder.

The concert is free and open to the public and a free will offering will be held to support outreach programs sponsored by the Open Church of Maryland. For more information visit theopenchurchmd.org or contact Marco K. Merrick at [email protected] or 410-294-2991.