If any church has reason to be festive during the holidays, First Baptist Church of Vista does. Not only does this year mark the church’s 50th anniversary, but will also be the 25th time the Living Christmas Tree is performed at the church.
Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Calvert formed First Baptist Church on April 27, 1947 at their home. In 1963, the church bought property at its present location, 302 N. Emerald Drive. The congregation has continued to swell, and now the church embraces a large congregation as well as the Tri-City School on the same property.
In keeping with the celebration of the past, this year’s Living Christmas Tree will honor the first performance by featuring selected music from past years. The church’s goal, of course, is to proclaim the gospel through a meaningful Christmas message. First-time director Dr. Don Ellsworth, chairman of the Music Department at Christian Heritage College in El Cajon, will lead the 65-member choir and 20-plus member orchestra. This year’s performance is entitled, “The Spirit of Christmas: Past, Present & Future.”
A huge stage in the form of a Christmas tree, complete with Christmas greenery, lights and live performers, is erected and crowned with an enormous lighted star that reaches the ceiling. A drama will develop using church members as actors and the music will swell as the choir members sing with the accompaniment of the orchestra below.
First Baptist Church’s location in the Tri-City area has allowed its members to minister to the residents of Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad and San Marcos for the past 50 years. Listeners travel from as far away as 15 to 30 miles to hear Senior Pastor Dr. Jeffrey Johnson’s message, with even more expected to come to help celebrate the two anniversaries this holiday season.