Religion Almanac, a roundup of local religious events open to the public, is published weekly in Faith & Values. Deadline for news releases is noon Monday for the Saturday edition.
Christmas Drive-Thru: Braden River United Methodist Church, 5858 44th Ave. E., Bradenton, invites the community to its seventh annual "Christmas Drive-Thru," 6-8 p.m. Dec. today. The event uses unique modern replicas of portions of the town of Bethlehem, where members of the church will portray scenes of how parts of the city looked like at the time of the birth of Jesus. Information: 941-745-1663.
Humanistic Judaism: The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, meeting at Unity of Sarasota, 3023 Proctor Road, will be open 1-3 p.m. Dec. 15 for any and all wishing to learn more about how Humanistic Judaism combines the best of Jewish tradition with the best of today's humanistic philosophies. The open and affirming congregation welcomes people of all backgrounds and religions. Information: 941-929-7771.
Dramatic presentation: Manatee United Methodist Church, 315 15th St. E., Bradenton, will present the
Christmas musical drama, "The Road to Bethlehem: Just the Beginning," at 7 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Dec. 16. "The Road to Bethlehem" is a musical drama of a story about a journey a young girl takes with her parents in a caravan bound for Bethlehem. Information 941-746- 0101.
Neighborhood Christmas Party: 6-8 p.m. at Central Christian Church, 926 15th Street W,. Bradenton. Enjoy food, games and presents, and meet Santa. Information: 941-748-3130
Celebration of Christmas, Secular and Sacred: A program to be offered at Church of the Trinity, 7225 Lockwood Ridge Rd., Sarasota, 7:30 p.m. today. The program will feature readings from scripture and literature, carols, a Florida Christmas, Snow White, and a potpourri of performers. Admission is free but seating is limited. Make reservations by calling 941-355-0847.
Women of Fire: Are you really ready for a change in your life? Are you ready to be the woman God called you to be? If you are, then meet "Women of Fire (Now)" group for an evening of empowerment, healing, deliverance and knowledge at 3 p.m. today at the Lakewood Business Park, 4301 32nd St. W., suite B-5. Information: Pastor Barbara Walker at 772-216-9758.
Peace-full shopping day: Peace Presbyterian Church, 10902 Technology Terrace, Lakewood Ranch, will care for children 2-6 p.m. today while their parents shop or simply enjoy a peaceful afternoon. Children in grades K-5 will enjoy games, crafts, music and healthy snacks. The cost is $5 per child. All caregivers all have been given background checks. For information and reservations, call the Peace office at 941-753-7778.
Spectacular Spectacular Community Christmas Concert: The Congregational United Church of Christ, 3700 26th St. West, Bradenton, presents its first Spectacular Spectacular Community Christmas Concert, at 7 p.m. Dec. 16. Sposored by local businesses, the concert features world-class tenor Dale Kitchell. Proceeds from the concert will go to a children's early learning program being developed at the church. A freewill offering taken that evening will be given to the United Way of Manatee County. Information: 941-739-1018.
Screening of "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg": Temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road in Sarasota, will show the film "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg," 2 p.m. Dec. 16. The film is a documentary spotlighting television pioneer Gertrude Berg, who paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. The film includes interviews with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner, and television producer Norman Lear. Admission is $5. Information: call Beth Salzman at 941-351-8766.
Island holiday: The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra presents "Island Holiday," 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. It will feature a sing-along of popular holiday music, along with selections from Handel and Tchaikovsky. Tickets are $20 and are available at amicco.org, the AMI Chamber, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach or by calling Donna at 941-778-8585.
Suncoast Band Concert: At Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3131 61st St., Sarasota, at 3 p.m. Dec. 16. Bandmaster Robert Stoll leads the group in its 80th season. Admission is $5. Information: www.SuncoastConcertBand.org.
Christmas musical celebration: First Presbyterian Church, 1402 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, presents "Of His Kingdom There Shall Be No End," created and arranged by David T. Clydesdale, at 5 p.m. Dec, 16. Featuring the Chancel Choir with orchestra, the concert includes many favorite hymns and Christmas carols. A reception will follow the concert. Information: 941-746-6141.
Advent Lessons and Carols: A festive celebration will be offered at The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., in downtown Sarasota, at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 16. Lessons and Carols is a joyous, interactive recounting of history from the Fall of Man to the annunciation of the Savior's birth to Mary. The congregation will join in the reading of Scripture and the singing of well-loved Advent carols. A light reception will follow in Gillespie Hall. Information: 941-955-4263.
Fundraiser Night: Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church will be raising money for its youth group 5-8 p.m. Dec. 17 at Chick-fil-A Creekwood, at State Road 70 and Interstate 75. Chick-fil-A will donate 20 percent of sales to help send 22 people to a national youth gathering in July in San Antonio, Texas. Fundraiser flyers can be picked up at the church office, 7461 Prospect Road, Sarasota, or call 941-355-2798.
Midday recital: The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, will offer a midday organ recital 12:10-12:40 p.m. Dec. 19 featuring Ann Stephenson-Moe performing on the church's 50-stop Nichols & Simpson pipe organ and Daniel Mendelow, the former principal trumpet for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Information: www.redeemersarasota.org or call 941-955-4263.
Blue Christmas service: For those suffering from the recent or impending death of loved ones and for those whose families are in crisis, Christmas can be a very isolated and dreary time. A special "Blue Christmas Service" will be conducted at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at Living Lord Lutheran Church, 11107 Palmbrush Trail, Lakewood Ranch. Christmas Eve services at Living Lord are scheduled for 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Information: 941-753-9365.
Messiah sing-along: The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, presents its annual Messiah Sing Along 7:30 a.m. Dec. 23. This festive, family-friendly event features members of the choirs of Redeemer singing along with the congregation, accompanied by a chamber orchestra and guest organist Michael Stuart. Ticket donations are $10 and may be made in advance online at www.redeemersarasota.org, or by calling or visiting the church. Subject to availability, tickets will also be sold at the door on the day the event.
Information: 941-955-4263 or visit www.redeemersarasota.org.
christmas eve services
n First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 5 p.m., Children and Family Service; 7 p.m. Traditional Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols. Nursery is available at both services. Information: 941-955-0935.
n Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 322 15th St. W., Bradenton. 6 p.m. with music, candle-lighting and Christmas stories and carols. Refreshments to follow. Information: 941-746-0067.
n Manatee United Methodist Church, 315 15th St E, Bradenton. 6 p.m. The children's choir will perform the musical drama "Away in a Manger" during the outdoor service. Information: 941-746-0101.
n The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., downtown Sarasota, invites the community to join its congregation in worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
n Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Family Mass (Rite II) with a visit by St. Nicholas at 4 p.m., Choral Mass (Rite II) at 6:30 p.m. Each service is preceded by a half-hour of traditional Christmas carols. Muscial celebration at 9:30 p.m., of organ and brass quartet. At 10 p.m., the choir will sing anthems heralding the High Solemn Mass (Rite I with incense) at 10:30 p.m. Babysitting for toddlers and infants is provided. Information: 941-955-4263.
n CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 7 p.m. Information: 941-778-0719.
n Ellenton United Methodist Church, 3607 U.S. 301 N., candlelight service at 6 p.m. Information: 941-729-6802.
Christmas dinner for the homeless: Our Daily Bread, 701 17th Ave. W., Bradenton, will provide a Christmas Day meal 9:30-11 a.m. Congregation Ner Tamid members and friends will volunteer to serve in order for the regular staff can have the day with their families. Staff expects a record number of dinners to be served. Information: 941-745-2992 or 941-755-1231.
Holocaust Center grand opening: The Al Katz Center for Holocaust Survivors & Jewish Learning will celebrate its grand opening with an open house and brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 25 at 713 South Orange Ave., Suite 105, in Sarasota. The center will provide a warm environment for survivors to meet and obtain services and advocacy for their increased needs as they age. The Center will also conduct classes and programs each week for the Jewish community at large. Information: call Beverly Newman at 941-313-9239 or 317-590-0876.
Fundraiser: The Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 322 15th St. W., Bradenton, will host a piano concert at 4 p.m. Jan. 6 presented by Eleonora Lvov. She is boldly emotive with staggering technique and emanates spirituality and ardent passion through her music. A reception will follow. Suggested donation is $15. Information: 941-746-0067.
"World Walk! Seed Talk!": A presentation by Hope Seeds Inc., a Christian, charitable organization which provides seed and agricultural support to missionaries and mission teams around the world, wil be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3011 19th Ave. W., Bradenton. Enjoy fun for all ages, food and presentations while touring exhibits and speaking with experts. Inforamtion: 941-228-5660 or www.hopeseeds.org.