Advent & Christmas at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

This is your guide to Advent and Christmas at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. To return to this page throughout the season, simply enter in your browser.


On Sunday, Dec. 3, Senior Pastor Scott Black Johston begins an Advent sermon series based on the ancient O Antiphons, Biblical names for Jesus set to music. The beloved hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is based on this tradition.

"Medieval monks would greet each other on the last leg of the journey through Aevent with a friendly reminder, 'Keep your O,'" Scott says. "In other words, keep singing your faith. This year, we are going to follow the monk's lead." 

In addition to our weekly worship on the four Sundays of Advent, here are the other special services on the calendar:

Blue Christmas, a midweek service of contemplation and healing. 7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 13, Kirkland Chapel.

Fear-Not Factor, this year's Children's Christmas Pageant, will be part of worship on Sunday, Dec. 17, the third Sunday of Advent. Both the 9:30 and 11 am services will be in the Sanctuary on this day.

Travelers Christmas Eve, our traditional "early Christmas Eve" for members and friends who will be traveling over the holiday and don't want to miss out on an FAPC Christmas. 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 19, Kirkland Chapel.

Christmas Eve. This year Dec. 24 is both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. We will mark the Fourth Sunday of Advent during morning worship at 11 am (there is no 9:30 am service today). Then in the afternoon and evening, we will celebrate Christmas Eve, with a service for families and children at 4 pm, and our traditional candlelight services at 7:30 and 11. Music begins one-half hour before each Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Day. Join us for lessons and carols at 11 am in the Sanctuary.

For the complete worship calendar, click here.

Our New Advent Reader

New this year, FAPC offers Standing Watch: An Advent Reader, a collection of pastoral reflections for every day of the season. Edited by Kathy Henderson, this holiday e-book draws on a century's worth of Advent and Christmas sermons by FAPC pastors past and present.

You may download the reader as a PDF. You may also choose to have these reflections arrive in your daily email, starting Dec. 3 (the first Sunday of Advent). You will find complete information here.

Music & Fine Arts

Carols by Candlelight. The FAPC Chamber Choir presents a blend of classic Christmas music and less-familiar treasures that illuminate the wonder and majesty of Christ’s coming. The concert also features joyful congregational carols and holiday readings by Broadway star Jeanne Lehman French. Tickets, available from, are $30 for general admission, $40-50 for premium seating, $25 for seniors and $15 for students. Tickets are also on sale in the Gallery on the Sundays preceding the weekend of concerts. 7 pm Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, Kirkland Chapel.


Our ongoing volunteer programs remain in full swing throughout the holidays. See for a complete list of opportunities to serve during Advent and Christmas.

Here are some special activities for the season:

Joe Vedella Christmas Dinner. We will employ dozens of volunteers to help serve nearly 200 guests at this 19th annual event. Contact Meredith Fleck ([email protected]) if you are interested in helping. The dinner starts at 2 pm Sunday, Dec. 3, in Bonnell Hall.

Christmas at the Bowery Mission. FAPC volunteers lead an evening of holiday music, followed by dinner service, for residents and guests of this historic mission on the Lower East Side. This special Advent service on Sunday, Dec. 10, is in lieu of our regular, fourth-Sunday service at the Bowery. Volunteers are asked to arrive at 4:45 pm. For details, click here.

Shelter Family Christmas Party. Volunteers are needed for set-up and clean-up at this annual holiday celebration for children living in New York City shelters. Contact Meredith Fleck ([email protected]) if you want to make this joyful event a success. The event is at 6 pm Monday, Dec. 11, in the LaDane Williamson Christian Education Center.

Fellowship Events

The holiday season at FAPC kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 26, with the Hanging of the Greens, the evening we decorate the Sanctuary for Advent. This festive event begins shortly after the conclusion of the 11 am worship service.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, the Women's Association hosts its afternoon Christmas Tea, complete with holiday treats and caroling. Everyone's invited! Wear your festive attire!

Family Ministries hosts its annual Family Christmas Party at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16, on the eve of the annual Christmas Pageant.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, the Cider Sing tradition continues at FAPC, and we welcome your voices! We will gather on the Fifth Avenue steps for some old-fashioned caroling, bringing the joy of the season to Fifth Avenue. This event begins at 12:30 pm.

Weekend Tours

With FAPC all dressed up for the holidays, this is an ideal time to explore the architecture and learn the history of this landmark church.

FAPC will open our doors on Fifth Avenue for Saturday tours on Dec. 9 and Dec. 23, from 11:30 am until 3 pm. Sunday tours continue as usual throughout Advent and Christmas, beginning from the rear of the Sanctuary immediately following the 11 am worship service. There are no tours on Christmas Day or New Year's Day.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, we offer our special, "insider's tour" of FAPC, which includes a visit to the Sanctuary attic and the historic clock tower. This tour begins at 12:15 pm in Kirkland Chapel.

Tags: christmas,advent

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church