Rob "The Drumming Pastor" Lamp will bang his drums on stage tonight at Howard Community College during his church's annual Christmas extravaganza.
This is the 10th year that he and others in the 400-member Valley Brook Community Church have held the seasonal event.
"I think it's the only [local Christmas] show that strikes me as a variety show," said Mr. Lamp, the interdenominational church's executive pastor and the show's executive producer.
"We do it in a way that is entertaining, and not heavy, but meaningful."
This year's 90-minute "Valley Brook Christmas" show, planned six months ago, will feature 60 performers singing, dancing, acting and performing comedic skits at the college's Smith Theatre on Cedar Lane.
Shows are at 8 p.m. tonight, and 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow. There was a show at 8 p.m. last night.
Two thousand tickets, priced at $7.50, have been printed. While most have been sold, a limited number are available for the Saturday matinee.
The event will feature a wide variety of gospel, jazz, country, classical and contemporary Christian music.
Music will include selections from Handel's "Messiah," renditions of Quincy Jones' "Soulful Messiah," and the songs of gospel and Christian artists BeBe and Cece Winans and Amy Grant.
The show, which has drawn up to 3,000 patrons in the past, is intended to bring joy, inspiration and "the Christmas spirit" to county residents, he said.
"It's for the entire family," said singer Iris Halliburton of Long Reach. "The neat thing about all this is that it's an entire church pulling together."
A food marketing manager by profession, Ms. Halliburton will sing several popular songs, including Nat King Cole's "A Christmas Song." When on stage, "I want you to feel what I feel," she declared.
The show has attracted a strong local following, drawing people back year after year and motivating Valley Brook church members to continue the event.
"People get a kick out of seeing some of the same folks each year," Mr. Lamp said. "This may be a train that's hard to halt."
The event parallels the church's strong focus on music and drama in its Sunday services, said Mr. Lamp, the congregation's drummer, as well its head pastor.
Because the church doesn't have its own building, members meet at the community college on Sundays. The church has acquired 17.8 acres on Hall Shop Road to build a church for an estimated $2 million near Clarksville next year.
Members feel strongly about including performing arts in the weekly services because "we want our
church to be a place where people feel comfortable to come," Mr. Lamp said.
"We are a very musical church, and that's why this Christmas production is such a big deal to us," he said.
And as a performer himself, he can see the importance of music to the church community, Mr. Lamp said.
When he steps down from the drums at church services and begins the sermons, "most people are pleasantly surprised," he said. "They say, 'Wow. This is cool, a drumming pastor.' ".
He added, "I love to entertain people. I just think that's one way you can bring joy to people's lives."