First St. John's Lutheran Church is offering a Christmas experience that highlights its German heritage.

"We're spreading the Gospel, but we're doing it in a different way, in the German language," said church member Edward Abendschoen. "We're doing this for those who would like to hear the Christmas Gospel in the German language."

First St. John's annual German-language Christmas service is at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, at the church at 140 W. King St. in York City. The event will last about 45 minutes, said Abendschoen, a service committee member.

Service in German: All parts of the service will be in German, except for the welcome at the beginning, when attendees will learn about the purpose and parts of the service, he said.

"We have folks who are there to learn and to participate," Abendschoen said.

The service includes the singing of German Christmas carols, biblical readings about the birth of Jesus Christ and hymns.

The Men's Hobby Chorus of the Liederkrantz German Society of Lancaster will perform special music selections.

The guest speaker is the Rev. Guenter Schwab of Baltimore. He will do his sermon in German, Abendschoen said.

"We hope people will have an appreciation of the German Christmas heritage of York County," he said. "And we're doing this for our German immigrants in the United States and for those who have a connection to German culture."

People from Harrisburg and Lancaster County also come to the annual German-language Christmas service, said Abendschoen, 68, of Springettsbury Township.

German heritage: Abendschoen, who is of German descent, said presenting the special Christmas service is First St. John's way of helping the congregation and the community hold on to their German traditions, language and culture.

First St. John's Lutheran Church dates back to 1874, when its original congregation spoke German, said the Rev. Jim Driskell, First St. John's pastor.

The church also does an annual German-language Easter celebration service, he said.

"Church members are interested in keeping the German heritage alive," Driskell said. "It's still an important part of the church's heritage."

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.