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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Laymen’s League starts Monday

  • Neosho Laymen’s League Pre-Christmas Services organizers are gearing up for the weeklong event, which will begin on Monday, Dec. 16 and conclude on Friday, Dec. 20, at First Presbyterian Church, 215 N. High St., Neosho.
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  • Neosho Laymen’s League Pre-Christmas Services organizers are gearing up for the weeklong event, which will begin on Monday, Dec. 16 and conclude on Friday, Dec. 20, at First Presbyterian Church, 215 N. High St., Neosho.
    This year’s event marks the 67th year and will be held each day starting at 6 a.m. with a period of fellowship, coffee and doughnuts. Then the services will begin at 6:30 a.m., with music, scriptures, prayers and the keynote speaker. Each speaker will speak about “What Christmas Means to Me?”
    This year’s speakers are as follows:
    • Monday’s speaker is Dr. Bob Foster, a retired college professor;
    • Tuesday’s speaker is Dr. Max Ruhl, a retired university dean and cattle farmer from Wheaton;
    • Wednesday’s speaker is Dan Decker, superintendent of Neosho R-5 School District;
    • Thursday’s speaker is Mike Aldrich, Neosho High School’s vocational agriculture instructor. It is also considered youth day; and
    • Friday’s speaker is Eric Norris, local insurance agent.
    Explaining the main purpose of the event is Bob Skaggs, league president.
    “It is just refocusing over the holidays and rebuilding the true meaning of Christmas,” he said.
    Background info
    A notable service
    Success of this venture exceeded expectations and received national publicity through printing of an article in Time magazine on Dec. 29, 1947 in the religion section. The following is the article.
    “About 5,000 people live in the little community of Neosho. This year, as the Christmas season began, Attorney Wayne Slankard and a few of his friends felt an urge to do something special, they wanted to come closer to the spiritual meaning of Christ’s birthday. They decided to meet at 7:15 every morning – men only – for half an hour’s devotion in the greystone Presbyterian Church. Perhaps 50 or so might show up, they thought.
    “The first morning 275 came. By the end of the last week, the church was packed every morning with as many as 350 men in overalls and business suits. ‘It’s hard to explain,’ said Slankard, ‘but this Christmas in Neosho has more meaning somehow than any we can remember.”
    The second year of this ministry, the famous minister and chaplain of the United State Senate Peter Marshall came to Neosho for the weeklong preaching mission.
    This year will also be special in another sort of way.
    There will be photographs from the 1948 preaching mission led by Marshall. Also, an outgrowth of the first services held at the First Presbyterian Church in 1947. The pictures were provided by Dr. Bill Bethea of New Orleans, so of Ted Bethea, one of the founders of these services.
    Page 2 of 2 - Skaggs said that the men enjoy the non-denominational services over the years.
    “It is definitely special to get a couple of hundred men together and worship, it is just a special time,” he said.
    As stated, the speaker will focus their on the question, “What Christmas Means to Me?” Skaggs relates.
    “Being that our experiences are all different, the stories are always interesting and on occasion, really touching,” he said.
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