Palmerton, and its surrounding area, is rich in history and architecture. Prime examples are the churches that serve the people of the community.

Thanks to several of those churches and the Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches and the Palmerton Area Historical Society, people could visit these churches when they opened their doors for a self-guided tour of 13 churches, all dressed in their Christmas finest.

Churches included:

Emmanuel United Church of Christ, Bowmanstown, 509 Hamilton St., founded in 1903, is served by Pastor Dennis Schappell. The sanctuary was decorated in a blue and white theme this year, along with traditional poinsettias.

St. Vladimir Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 106 Delaware Ave., was established in 1918 by the Ukrainians that emigrated to the area to work for the New Jersey Zinc company. It is served by the Rev. Evhen Moniuk. The chancel area is decorated with two trees in gold and white that surround the Nativity scene but the church is a work of art all year round with hand-painted walls and ceilings and ornate filigree.

The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on 502 Lafayette Ave. was formed in 1911 but the church building wasn't built until 1914. It is served by the Rev. Paul Schoffstall. An angel-topped tree and the altar area decorated in poinsettias graced Holy Trinity's sanctuary for the Christmas season.

The 1st United Church of Christ at 457 Delaware Ave. originated in 1910 but didn't have its own building until 1912. It is served by the Rev. Martin E. Nuscher. The sanctuary has two Christmas trees gracing it, along with garland and poinsettias. Two unique features to the church are its stone walls and balcony.

St. John's Episcopal Church, 365 Lafayette Ave., is served by Father Abraham J. Valiath. The town founder, Stephen S. Palmer, commissioned the church and it was built in 1905, completed in 1906, in memory of his late wife, Susan Flanders Price Palmer. Its sanctuary is simply decorated in small trees and poinsettias. The truly magnificent Tiffany stained glass windows are some of its most prominent features all year long.

The Living Hope Lighthouse Church on 705 Third St. is served by the Rev. Nathan Fry and the Rev. Chris Bronico. The church was built in 1916 and the congregation was known as the United Evangelical Church. It became the Living Hope Lighthouse after 2001. For Christmas, the sanctuary is graced by four beautiful trees but a walk around the church and the words "Love God Love Others Make Disciples" are prominently painted on a wall, as well as a beautiful lighthouse scene.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, 243 Lafayette Ave. is served by the Rev. William Campion. The church was formed in 1890 but didn't move to its new home until 1908. The present day church was built in 1957 and its first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve that year. Twelve beautiful Christmas trees provided a stunning display with eight of those trees surrounding the Nativity scene.

Each one is as individual and unique as the next, but one of the main things they have in common are the amazingly beautiful stained glass windows.

St. George Russian Orthodox Church at 730 Church St. was dedicated in 1915, represented the Russian, Ukranian and Uhro-Russian nationalities living in Palmerton. It is served by Arch Priest Father Vincent Saverino. The walls and ceiling is a treasure trove of artwork which features many hand-painted scenes of Christ and his life.

St. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, Franklin Ave. and Church St., was founded in 1918. The three unusual steeples and triple crosses are distinctive of Russian architecture and is affectionately known as an "Onion Church. It is served by the Rev. Fr. J. Michael Venditti, M. Div. Five lovely Christmas trees decorate the sanctuary for the season but its exquisite hand-painted murals are true works of art for all seasons.

The Little White Church, 911 Third St., was built in 1844 as an Evangelical Congregation and has served many denominations since. Currently it is owned by the Palmerton Area Historical Society. A lovely decorated tree and poinsettias make this historic sanctuary look festive.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Towamensing, 2915 fireline Road is served by the Rev. Jody L. Neifert. It is the second oldest congregation in Carbon County organized 1798 and was a log structure and was replaced with the current building in 1862. Lighted garlands, a tree and a poinsettia tree can be greatly admired from one of the three balconies in this historic church.

Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 500 Church Drive, Trachsville, served by the Rev. Brian R. Holben, was the newest church on the tour, built in 2003. One of its loveliest Christmas decorations is this poinsettia tree with white poinsettias forming a cross amid the red.

Jerusalem United Church of Christ, 545 Church Drive, Trachsville, was built in 1848 and was a union church until 2001. It is served by the Rev. William Ellsworth, interim pastor. It's sanctuary is beautifully decorated with lighted garlands, wreaths and tree.

All are works of art and beautiful and welcoming places to worship God and His son, Jesus Christ.