KEYC - GAC Arts Director Retiring After 44th Year With Christmas In Chr

GAC Arts Director Retiring After 44th Year With Christmas In Christ Chapel

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ST PETER, MN -

Gustavus Adolphus College held its 44th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel worship service Sunday.

A tradition starting with 150 students harmonizing to Christmas carols. Among them was the colleges Fine Arts Director Al Behrends.

When Behrends was a student during the first service in 1972, he explained, "To be a part of the community in the Choir of Christ Chapel or the symphony or the Gustavus choir, it was a part of the requirement, part of being in the ensemble, but then everybody realized how special it was."

Now, the service has evolved, with more than 350 students performing musical, dance and spoken presentations, providing the community with a way to celebrate Christmas during a time of musical worship.

"It's hard to put into words. It's very special. It's humbling, it's gratifying, it's just a wonderful feeling," said Behrends.

With every year comes a new theme. This year's theme stresses the importance of community.

"The theme this year is Ubuntu, Jesu, and Ubuntu is Swahili for community and the participation of everybody coming together, pulling towards a common goal. So it's just perfect. It's already a community celebration but we're talking in themes of social justice, music, community service and faith," said Behrends.

A theme that one college freshman finds fitting. "For me, my favorite thing about it is the community. It brings alumni, parents, people from the community in St. Peter together so I think that's why it's so special to everyone. I'm really excited to be able to do it for the next 3 years," said Student Emily Hannan, feeling that same special feeling Behrends first felt 44 years ago.

In 3 months, Behrends will retire, but the sense of community that Christmas at Christ Chapel brings will continue.

"I will be around for years helping with Christmas in Christ Chapel. They'd have to put out some kind of injunction to keep me off the campus this weekend. It's been such a special part of my life. For 44 years the first weekend in December has been this. I can't even imagine not being a part of this as it goes into the future," said Behrends.

--KEYC News 12.