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St. Andrew's continue time-honored tradition

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The congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harriman welcomes the public to its significant Roane County tradition: the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve celebrating the Nativity of Jesus.

A musical interlude will begin at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, followed by the Eucharist at 11.

The Rev. Harry Howard, resident priest at St. Andrew’s, will, for the first time, offici-
ate at the Christmas Eve service.   

Robin Duff will be the featured soloist.

“We don’t know exactly how long this tradition has been in place since we have been
unable to fix the exact date of the first celebration,” Howard said, “but we do feel that it has been well over 100 years.”

This account is summized because St. Andrew’s has historical accounts of the Episcopal Church presence being brought by the city’s founders even as Harriman was founded in 1890-91.

Names such as Ayres and Byrd were prominent among those who brought the worship of the Episcopal Church to Harriman.

“The first services of the Episcopal Church in Harriman were held by lay people in the Byrd Mansion —in what is now Flour Mill Flats — off of Carter Street in Harriman,” Howard said.

“First services were the 22nd Sunday after Trinity in 1891, which was the year Harriman was founded,” he added. “Christmas Eve services probably started right away, since they were being held at that time by Episcopal and other churches of the Anglican Communion and since the Book of Common Prayer was in use here.”

Howard said the earliest photos available of the old St. Andrew’s church building on Trenton Street show the church decorated for Christmas.

That church building was there early in Harriman’s history.

“Ironically, the first resident clergyman in Harriman was one who, as a younger man, had been the photographer hired by the land company
to record the beginnings of
the new city as land was
sold and the building began along streets of mud,” Howard said.

“Alexander Cassidy Killeffer, who had served churches in Fayetteville and Monterey, Tenn., came back to Harriman as first resident priest of St. Andrew’s Church,” he noted.

“Alexander’s son, Dr. Louis Killeffer, was a successful and well-known physician in Roane County and a prominent leader of St. Andrew’s Church until his death.”

One reason celebrations occur on Christmas Eve is
because the traditional Christian liturgical day starts at sunset.

This is an inheritance from Jewish tradition, which, in turn is based in the story of creation in Genesis:  “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.”  

This liturgical day is followed for all days.  

During the 40 days leading up to Christmas, Episcopalians and other mainline churches begin observing the liturgical season of Advent four Sundays before Christmas.

This is seen as a time of spiritual cleansing, recollection and renewal to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is at 190 Circle Drive.

Call 882-1272 for information.