Members of an old country church have a big heart for Christmas

The morning after Sunday's snowstorm left a postcard-like scene in the village of Metz. The historic St. Peter Lutheran Church was covered in snow. Inside, a 13-foot natural tree is beautifully decorated in the sanctuary. (Photo by Peter Jakey)
The morning after Sunday’s snowstorm left a postcard-like scene in the village of Metz. The historic St. Peter Lutheran Church was covered in snow. Inside, a 13-foot natural tree is beautifully decorated in the sanctuary. (Photo by Peter Jakey)

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

St. Peter Lutheran Church of Metz is a little church at intersecting country roads.

As small as it is, as tiny as its congregation, St. Peter has a big heart for Christmas. That’s why they traditionally put up big Christmas trees in their sanctuary.

The tree was decorated Sunday by the church’s faithful following morning service. It was donuts, coffee and decorators.

So many churches have their unique annual traditions. This is what the congregation at the Metz church does in December.

St. Peter church is one of a handful of historic country churches still holding up, still being utilized by church bodies in the county.

The building in Metz was constructed and dedicated in the summer of 1909, after the first building was lost in the Metz fire of 1908. The new church was built on the same spot.

MIKE LIETZOW (left) and Neil Altman put some icicle Christmas lights across the front of the altar. (Photo by Peter Jakey)
MIKE LIETZOW (left) and Neil Altman put some icicle Christmas lights across the front of the altar. (Photo by Peter Jakey)

While the new church went up 107 years ago, it does not feel new. In fact, it is like stepping back in time.

Over the decades, the tradition of bringing in large, live trees has endured, and the church family has refined its decorating techniques.

To start off with, they use a specially built tree stand with wheels. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland has never seen, or sold one like this.

The wheels are needed to roll it over to the choir balcony. All 20 pews have to be moved out of the way to make a path.

Once the tree is moved, the star, bulbs and lights go on the upper part before it is wheeled back for the final touches.

This year’s tree was donated by Ed Sorget of Rogers City, who has a lot of nice looking Christmas trees on his property in Rogers Township; however, some of the trees are getting a little too big and heavy for the folks at St. Peter.

The one picked out this year was 17 feet tall – weight unknown.

“We could not pick it up,” said Neil Altman, who started going to St. Peter with his family in 1949. “Six of us could not handle it,” he said.

The stand usually goes on outside, before it is carried inside and hoisted up.

“It got away from us and knocked out part of the communion rail,” said Altman. The white rail was fixed and repainted in short order.

After that, everything went fairly smooth and it is now in place and ready for the rest of the services during the holidays, including the youth program, Dec. 18.

“Christmas relives the real meaning of the season,” said Altman.

“All the decorations and preparations that goes into it is about the coming, the coming of Christ,” said church chairman Mike Lietzow.

Serving as pastor Jeff Ryan said, “”I told the congregation on Sunday that all of these decorations are meaningful, as they point us to different aspects of Jesus and His coming into the world.  But the most important source of our Advent worship is the words of Scripture themselves.”