CLAYSVILLE – For over 20 years the Mineral County Historical Society has opened the doors of the historic Claysville Church for the annual Christmas service.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
CLAYSVILLE – For over 20 years the Mineral County Historical Society has opened the doors of the historic Claysville Church for the annual Christmas service.
“Why keep coming back every year?” asked Historical Society vice president Ed McDonald, assuring everyone that all the reasons have to do with traditions, values and commitment.
McDonald noted that the church was built in 1850 before the Civil War, electric, automobiles or radio.  
“When people settled, one of the first things they did was build a church. The reasons we are coming today are still the same,” said McDonald.
The church served both Confederate and Union troops in the 1860s and prominent families from the New Creek Valley, including the Bosleys, Dolls and Pancakes, are featured on the honor roll.
In Christmas tradition, the tree in the corner was adorned with popcorn strings, gold stars, holly and cardinal ornaments.
The Rev. Martin Townsend, a retired bishop with the Episcopal Church and a volunteer with Ashby’s Fort, presided over the Christmas service as he welcomed everyone to the season of Advent, “expecting and waiting for Lord Jesus in our lives.”
“I love poetry. This one has a child-like feel to it,” he said as he recited E.E. Cummings “Little Tree.”
Townsend recalled remembrances of his childhood around a warm fire. He noted seeing a black crucifix and realizing for the first time, “Christ has to be someone that we recognize.”
His next piece was the Huron Carol. "Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis Gloria,” he said.
From the 1789 poem by William Blake, “The Lamb” he reads, “Little Lamb who made thee… He is called by thy name, For he calls himself a Lamb: He is meek & he is mild, He became a little child.”
"Ring Out, Wild Bells" is a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, published in 1850, the year he was appointed Poet Laureate.
The poem reads, “Ring out the false, ring in the true… Ring in the love of truth and right… Ring in the Christ that is to be.”
The annual candlelight service featured traditional selections of “Away in a Manger,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “What Child is This.”
Scripture readings from the old and new testament were presented by Dinah Courrier and Pam Williams.
“This is one of my favorites,” said Townsend as he read “Journey of the Magi" by T.S Eliot.
“We were lead all the way for birth of death?” Townsend said.
 “There’s a darkness in that,” he added, likening the three trees in the sky to the three crosses of Calvary in view from Bethlehem.
The annual offering goes toward the maintenance of the Claysville Church.
The service closed with congregational singing of “Silent Night” accompanied by Karen McDonald.