On a relatively warm wintry evening we all came together at our 8th Annual Community Gospel & Christmas Music Night on November 16. There were 120 in attendance from all over town and they showed their Christmas spirit early by donating $ 1,052 to the Vegreville Christmas Bureau. Each year, this event is held at a different church or charitable organization, and this year it was held at the St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church. 

By the time the doors officially opened at 6:00 pm, there were over 60 seated or milling about eagerly waiting for the music to begin. This has become a Christmas tradition in Vegreville to come together to sing Christmas carols and gospel songs as a warmup to the festive season. The program started at 6:30 pm with singing familiar Christmas Carols led by Rev. Laureta Blondin with accompanying music by the and the Companions on the Journey. This medley of carols consisted of “The First Nowell”, “Shepherds in the Field Abiding”, What Child is This”, and “Joy to the World”. 

Emcee Don Harfield of Perogies and Jam and Rev. Laureta Blondin of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church welcomed everyone to the event and noted that this was the first time this annual event has been held at this church. Over the prior seven years it has been held at the Maple Street Worship Centre, the Alliance Church, the United Church, the Sunshine Club and at the Lutheran Church. 

Up next, the Vegreville Youth Ensemble, led by Colleen Albert and accompanied by Brendon Barkwell on keyboard, sang lively renditions of “Hava Nagila” as the group of youngsters danced up the aisle to the front of the church. They followed up with “Awesome God”, “His Peace is Flowing Like a River”, and the animated “This Little Light of Mine” with the audience joining in. This year, the Youth Ensemble included Marley Weiss-Hartley, Klaira Nielsen, Sierra Ezio, Cohen Zorniak, Kali Zorniak and Livia Foran. Missing were Kenzie Gusnowski, Kynlee Gusnowski and Madyson Ziprick.

The Debbie Fedoruk Singers were up next with Jillian Varela singing “The Lord is Good to Me”, Abigail Bellamkonda singing “Gloria in Excelsis”, Julia Dolejsi singing the Christmas version of “Hallelujah”. Debbie Fedoruk concluded the set with the song “Indescribable” accompanied by Colleen Albert on keyboard. Debbie is a vocal coach and piano instructor in the Vegreville area.

The Companions on the Journey, consisting of Lisa Topilko on keyboard and guitar, Jim Bragg on guitar, and Joanne Veldkamp on flute sang “A Journey Just Begun” and “Annunciation”. The Companions on the Journey (of life) are a singing group at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Vegreville.

At the break, Rev. Laureta Blondin and emcee Don Harfield were joined by Joanne Veldkamp who spoke about the Vegreville Christmas Bureau. The Christmas Bureau has been a valuable source of much needed warm clothing, food hampers and Christmas gifts for families in need at what can be a vulnerable time of year for some families. This year, the money donated will go specifically to providing much needed food hampers.

After the break, the Alliance Church Choir led by Gill Bentley came to the stage and sang portions of their upcoming musical “An Unexpected Christmas”. The songs included “Here Comes Christmas”, “Behold the Grace of God”, and “We Call It Christmas”. For over 10 years, The Alliance Church has a well attended annual Christmas musical stage performance in early December, and it was great to have a “sneak preview” of this year’s performance.

The St John’s Lutheran Singers with Colleen Albert on keyboard sang “Dona Nobis Pacem” in Latin followed by Colleen Albert singing the “Iris Song” accompanying herself on the keyboard.

The evening of song was concluded with Rev. Laureta Blondin leading the audience with the final set of Christmas Carols “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and “Mary’s Boy Child” while accompanied by the Companions on the Journey. 

Rev. Blondin representing the Vegreville Ministerial Association thanked everyone for attending this evening and led the audience in a prayer for the community churches and the refreshments following downstairs. Emcee Don Harfield announced the final donation count for the monies raised for the Vegreville Christmas Bureau and thanked everyone for their generosity to help our community this Christmas season. Don also thanked the many volunteers including the greeters (Dawn Corpe, Jennifer Hladilo and Clarence Blondin), the sound tech Randy Kereliuk, and Anna Tomyn taking photos.

Thank you all for helping us celebrate the upcoming Christmas season!

Photography by Rob Hughes and Anna Tomyn

November 17, 2019