‘Gift of Celebration’ at Frauenthal Theater on Christmas Eve

Port City Church, a nondenominational church in Muskegon, will present a holiday production this weekend at the historic Frauenthal Theater, 425 W. Western Ave. in downtown Muskegon. The event is free and no tickets are needed.

“Our church loves the Muskegon area, so we want to give the community the gift of
celebration,” says Steve Derdowski, senior pastor. 

Three identical one-hour services will feature classic songs that “lift spirits and point hearts toward the wonder of Christmas.” They will be Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.; and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Derdowski says last year’s event was canceled because of a snowstorm, so his team has been looking forward to this year’s production.

“For some, Christmas Eve at the Frauenthal is already a family tradition,” he says. “Others who attend this year for the first time will be glad they started something new. Everyone will leave filled with hope, which is exactly what our world needs.” 

Huge volunteer effort

The creative team started planning the event several months ago. Rehearsals began in late October. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the church launched volunteer recruiting and organizing for non-stage roles, such as ushers/greeters and the safety team. The communications team  produced announcements, printed and digital invitations, web pages, and a short trailer video. 

“Christmas Eve at the Frauenthal Theater is definitely an event for the community put on by a large number of people in the community,” says David Staal, team development pastor. 

He estimates that 125 people will participate on and off stage. The church employs 13 people, so the production relies on the efforts of the church’s volunteers. From the start of planning through the end of Christmas Eve, the collective hours will total between 1,000 and 2,000. Every person involved considers their efforts a gift to the community, Staal says. 

There will be three performances over the holiday weekend.

“Our church exists to reach the Muskegon area, so the Christmas Eve services aren’t in addition to what we do – they fall right in the heart of how we want to serve others,” Staal says. “For that reason, funding for this production comes from our general budget. 

“We consider Muskegon Catholic Central as a partner because they loan large musical instruments to us that would prove too costly for us to purchase and use one time each year,” he continues. “The Frauenthal is a big place and needs big sound – so we’re grateful for MCC.” 

For many in Muskegon, the Christmas Eve production at the Frauenthal Theater is a holiday tradition. Staal says the team can see the impact of the program on the faces of those who attend. 

“We also know that many people who never attend our church – or any church – will go to a wonderful place like the Frauenthal to celebrate Christmas Eve,” Staal says. “The classic, familiar Christmas songs provide a much-needed break from everyday life and its challenges. In such a setting, even one that just lasts an hour, people experience something that surprises them – the good news of great joy for everyone. That good news is Jesus.” 

Port City Church has two campuses. The Cloverville campus, at 3387 Heights Ravenna Road in Muskegon, holds services on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The McGraft campus,1617 Palmer Ave. in Muskegon, offers Sunday services at 10 a.m.

For more information about Christmas Eve at the Frauenthal and Port City Church, visit
www.weareportcity.com or their Facebook event page.
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.