Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2013

When the pastor of Albemarle First Assembly found out Rowan Christian Assembly wouldn’t have a Christmas program this year he asked his church to step in.
The Salisbury church had functioned without a steady leader until the Rev. David Norris was made the transitional pastor in late October. By that time, Norris said, it was too late to plan an elaborate Christmas service.
But Bob Gruver, pastor of the Albemarle church where Norris has been attending since retiring from his 45 years in the ministry, said he didn’t want church members to miss out on a special Christmas program.
“I talked to our music pastor and we cancelled services here Sunday and invited our congregation to come and go with us to Rowan Christian Assembly,” he said. “It’s going to be an interactive kind of service with crowd songs to bring people in to share the spirit of Christmas in the church.”
Gruver said his church has been “blessed with some pretty good musical talent” and they are excited to share the season with another congregation.
“This is our effort to help Rowan County and the church there,” he said. “To say, ‘We’re with you guys, we want to see your succeed, we want to bless you.’
“Instead of being one church, you’ve blessed a whole community by multiplying and spreading wings.”
Stacy Sanders, Albemarle’s minister of music, will perform along with church members Ryan and Mary Story, Shelly Kerns, Kathy Morris and Linda Hartsell.
“We have put together a program that includes some classic carols with a blend of new Christmas favorites, some audience participation and maybe a surprise or two,” Sander said.
Gruver said those who haven’t seen Sanders, sing won’t want to miss his performance Sunday.
“If you’ve never heard him sing, you will love it,” he said. “Not only is he gifted, he’s got an awesome spirit.”
Norris said the partnership between the churches really highlights the spirit of Christmas.
“Giving is the whole concept,” he said. “This is just on a different scale because this is a congregation blessing another congregation and wanting absolutely nothing in return.”
The Salisbury church is excited about the upcoming concert, Norris said.
“We’re looking forward to Sunday,” he said. “We hope the community will come out and join us for this Christmas celebration.”
Following the service, refreshments will be served while attendees mingle.
“We’re looking forward to cross-pollinating and really enjoying each other’s company,” Gruver said.
Sunday’s Christmas celebration will take place at 6 p.m. at Rowan Christian Assembly, 923 N. Salisbury Ave.GQ.