The miniature lights on 10 evergreens in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Ironton flickered as visitors came to start the annual church walk sponsored by the Lawrence County Historical Society.
As they found their seats in the pews the notes of “What Child Is This” came from the piano in the chancel. Suddenly a violinist rose to play “O Come O Come Emanuel.”
“This is the biggest crowd for a church walk,” pastor Eric Barnes told those in the nave. “This is awesome.”
Then he told the audience that of all the eight churches in the church walk, his has the most modern architecture.
“But we are probably the oldest congregation,” Barnes said. “This summer we rejoiced in God for 201 years that the Gospel has been proclaimed through this body only through God’s grace.”
Following a reading of Psalm 96 commanding that his people praise the living God, Barnes and the church’s praise band played carols as the audience went onto the next churches.
When he was creating Ironton, industrialist John Campbell wanted a church on every corner. To look at modern-day Ironton, he got his wish.
Showcasing these downtown churches for their architecture and history is the mission of the church walk that has been going on for decades on the first Saturday in December. For many it is a way to start the holiday season.
At Christ Episcopal Church the deacon there, the Rev. A.J. Stack greeted the walkers with a short history of the church that has had a presence in Ironton since 1858.
“In my church we are celebrating the time of Advent,” Stack said. “It is waiting for the Lord. In the hustle and bustle in our lives to make Christmas perfect, Advent invites us to step back and take a breath and let Spirit remind us God works in a different time line.”