No event is an "annual" event until the second time it is held, warned Tamaqua Fellowship Network representative George Taylor at Saturday's first Tamaqua Community Advent Breakfast.
"It's our hope that this Advent breakfast becomes an annual event and an important part of Tamaqua's Christmas season observance," Taylor said in his welcome remarks at the ecumenical event.
Perhaps the 130 attendees from 11 area congregations would agree.
Taylor explained that the idea for an Advent breakfast came from Bethlehem, Pa., where last week city residents celebrated their 46th annual breakfast.
"They recognized our event today as their event's first franchise," Taylor quipped.
Tamaqua's Advent breakfast was sponsored by the Tamaqua Ministerial Association, the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce and the Tamaqua Area Fellowship Network, a group of lay leaders from area congregations working to promote understanding and cooperation among all Tamaqua organizations doing God's work in the community.
The St. John's United Church of Christ choir opened the program with selections from a cantata it performed last holiday season.
Following Taylor's remarks, Joe Mehalko led the group in singing "People Look East" and the Rev. Jeffrey Kistler, interim pastor at Zion Lutheran, gave the invocation. Following breakfast prepared by the Zion Lutheran culinary crew, Chamber of Commerce President Todd Miller thanked everyone associated with Tamaqua's newest holiday event.
"During this holiday season, I urge you to shop locally, get involved in some community organization," Miller said, "but most of all take some time to remember the real reason for the Advent – preparing for the celebration of the Christ child."
Tamaqua Area Partnership Committee executive director Michal Gursky said that every town ought to have an Advent Breakfast, but such an event is particularly suited for a town like Tamaqua.
"Tamaqua is a humble, obscure and earthly place, where indeed there would be no room in the inn," he said. "In fact, we don't even have an inn."
Gursky reminded his audience that while many in Tamaqua are connected to God, to church and to family, there are many more who are hurting.
"Many are hurting spiritually without a connection to God or the very down-to-earth spiritual community in Tamaqua," he said.
Gursky thanked everyone for celebrating Advent.
"Thank you for spreading the infectious notion that a brighter day is coming and there is hope," he said. "That's a message that needs to be heard."
The Rev. Michael Frost of Zion's Stone Church in West Penn Township delivered the Advent message.He said that while he had experienced hope and anticipation watching the stock market recently, he urged all to remember as they celebrate the anticipation of the Advent season that real hope is grounded in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Tim Gilman a member of the Bethlehem (Pa.) citizens group that hosts that city's annual Advent breakfast spoke about the history of the breakfast and presented four Moravian beeswax candles to Taylor. Gilman explained that the beeswax candles, the purest of all candles, represent the purity of Christ and the read trim around the candle's base represents the blood of Christ.
After Bernadette Griffith of St. Peter and St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church explained the important of candle light at Christmas, the Moravian candles were used to light attendee's candles as everyone sang "O Come, O come Emmanuel."
The Rev. Kevin Duffy-Guy of Trinity UCC closed the event with the Benediction.
Sandy Mehalko of Zion Lutheran served as accompanist for the hymns and provided season musical prior to the start of the program