On Monday, Nov. 29, the Concordia University Chicago community gathered for the annual “Lighting of the Campus Christmas Tree” event. The tree is located by the pillars in front of Addison Hall.
CUC has been hosting an event to celebrate the tree lighting for 16 years, since the former university president and his wife, John and Ruth Ann Johnson, started the tradition in 2005. CUC’s theme for the tree lighting this year was “Through Him, for Him.”
“In previous years, we lit three trees on campus,” said university pastor the Rev. Jeffrey Leininger, Ph. D. “Today, we are just simplifying it and doing one tree.”
At the event, hot chocolate was provided to attendees. Prior to the tree lighting, university president Russell Dawn, D.Phil., opened with a prayer. The prayer was followed by an encouraging message from the Rev. Leininger.
Next, the Concordia choir led the singing of hymns and carols, including the popular Christmas song Silent Night. “We just do a selection of Christmas carols and some of the classic favorites that people like,” said Leininger when asked about the song choices for the event. “We mix it up every year.”
The Rev. Leininger believes that the lighting of the Christmas tree conveys a simple message: “Jesus Christ is the light of the world,” said Leininger. “When we light the Christmas tree, we remember the light of Christ.”
The ceremony was attended by many people from the CUC community including students, staff, and children from the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) located on campus.
“I enjoy singing together with my fellow members of choirs,” said senior Charlie McClain. “And seeing the little kids from the ECEC come out and be happy to see a tree light up.”
McClain also attended CUC’s tree lighting ceremonies during his freshman and sophomore years. “It is super fun just to take part in it,” said McClain. “To come together with the Concordia community is a lot of fun and to celebrate what Christmas is.”
Associate vice president Paige Craig, BA ’99, coordinates the hanging of the lights and ensures that the event runs smoothly. “It is a way for all of us to come together,” said Craig. “It is a great kickoff to Christmas week at Concordia.”