Christmas In Candler: Virginia Christmas Spectacular Returns to Thomas Road Baptist Church

Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) is currently preparing for its yearly Christmas event, the Virginia Christmas Spectacular. 

An annual show that started in 1970, the Spectacular has become a tradition among Lynchburg’s community members. TRBC celebrated the event’s 50th anniversary last year. However, due to COVID-19, they were unable to celebrate as planned. This year, the festivities will return as normal. 

“I’ve seen the show every year since I was 8 years old,” Debbie Struble, executive assistant to Pastor Jonathan Falwell, said.   

Putting on a show of this magnitude requires months of preparation. Creative Director Adam Lancaster said that preparations begin in February with discussions about theme and aesthetic. 

By spring, the planners have a working concept of what the show and music will look like. Auditions are held in early fall, with physical rehearsals beginning in September. Rehearsals then happen weekly until November. 

“So, the whole year we are running worship ministry, (but) we are also planning and preparing for Christmas,” Lancaster said.

An exciting addition to this year’s production is the Living Christmas Tree, a feature excluded the past few years. The choir stands in the Christmas tree-shaped structure, which is covered with over 130,000 lights. Formerly the title of the show, people are excited to see the Living Tree return to  the stage. 

“We had a crew that spent two to three weeks in October completely re-stringing the tree,” Lancaster said. “After they’ve been sitting for four years, a lot of them were not working, so we had to update all that.”

Multiple ministry teams from TRBC collaborate to put on this show. The worship team and production teams play heavy roles in show preparation, and the children’s choir also participates. The grand total of staff and volunteers adds up to approximately 400 between choir, cast and crew. Lancaster expressed gratitude for every volunteer who learned choreography. 

“It’s a very wide-reaching event for our church to get involved with,” Lancaster said. 

The title for this year show is “Christmas in Candler,” a play on Candlers Mountain Road. The show’s theme changes every year, with a plot-heavy storyline some years and a focus on music and lights other years.

“(The show) centers around a family with a single dad and some of the struggles of that, and how he finds Christmas in the middle of dealing with the family dynamics,” Lancaster said.  

 TRBC ends every performance with an invitation to those in the audience to accept Christ. The show  runs from Dec. 9-12. 

BURTON is a feature writer.

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