Helen Keller, who knew real blindness, is quoted as having said, "The only real blind person at Christmas-time, is he who has not Christmas in his heart."

Hearts in Philadelphia have been stirred and warmed by exciting proclamations and events foretelling the approaching Christmas Season.


The cast of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," which included 40 children, lightened the hearts of their audiences as they tossed around Baby Jesus and "wrapped him in wadded-up clothes."


The Depot Artists Art Show and Sale was a happy and successful holiday coming-together of vendors and shoppers.

Ronnie Douglas was the lucky winner at the drawing for a free-one of Mitze Evans' lighted bottles.


The Rubye Yates House was elegantly beautiful and hospitably warm Saturday evening as David Traywick hosted a Christmas Open House in celebration of the Savior's birth and as a tribute to the legacy of Miss Rubye.


The Community Thanksgiving Service Sunday evening at East Philadelphia Baptist Church was the Christian unification of "one community under God."


And don't forget the Christmas Parade Monday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m.!


Joseph Willis, son of Dr. Walt and Allison Willis, was featured in the Student 360 Circle of Integrity, Academics, and Leadership in the Nov. 14 edition of The Madison County Journal.

It read as follows: "Joseph Willis, starting quarterback of the Madison Central High School Jaguar football team, is also a standout in the classroom. With a 4.0 GPA and a 30 on the ACT, Willis leads both on and off the field. He is also a member of the baseball team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and BETA Club. He had a perfect score in Algebra I and advanced scores in English, Biology, and U. S. History, and was the recipient of the Superintendent Award, National I Dare You Leadership Award, and the Woodman of the World Leadership Award."

Before calling Allison for permission to convey this news in "Friends," I ran into Joseph's grandmother, Rae Gordon, who, like any grandmother would do, said, "You have my permission!"

I am sure I would have gotten the same response from Joseph's paternal grandparents Joe and Mary Frank Willis. Joseph's sister, Caroline Willis, is a sophomore at Madison Central.


The Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker which has been delighting Christmas audiences for generations, knows no generation gap.

Representing three generations, Kim Price, Brenda Matthews, Melissa Clark, M. E. Clark, Vivian Gray, Janie Gray and Rivers Gray attended the ballet performance at the Temple Theater in Meridian during its recent tour in this area.


The JOY Group from East Philadelphia Baptist Church were among the 5300 people who attended the Celebration Conference in Sevierville, Tenn. Oct. 28 - Oct. 31.

Charles Billingsley, with his vibrant, entertaining personality and ability to sing, opened the conference.

He is Minister of Music at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. and "Live From Liberty" television show.

He is scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Dr. David Jeremiah, prominent Bible teacher and founder of "Turning Point" broadcast ministry was the speaker.

Tuesday morning, Charles Billingsley, Dr. Jeremiah and Jason Crabb, concert artist who continues the traditions of the popular Crabb Family Singers as a solo act, were on program, during which time Billingsley and Crabb sang "Midnight Cry."

Worth the trip!

That evening, The Oak Ridge Boys, living legends in American music, performed many favorites, closing with the popular "Elvira."

Wednesday evening the 150-member Sevier Heights Baptist Church choir and orchestra from Knoxville, Tenn. performed a patriotic service.

Mike Huckabee, 44th Arkansas Governor and host of "The Huckabee Show" on the Fox News Channel, was the speaker.

He closed the show by playing his bass guitar, along with the orchestra, to the tune of "I'll Fly Away."

Billingsley and Dr. Jeremiah were the adjournment speakers on Thursday.

Quoting Ray Fleming, "Our devoted bus driver, Randy Hearn, makes the best of our free time to make our trips fun and meaningful. Tuesday afternoon he drove us to Cade's Cove, and while we have always enjoyed the beautiful fall leaves, nothing compared to Cade's Cove this year.

"The mountainsides were completely covered with red, orange, and yellow colors. The highway pull-outs were crowded with cars and people with cameras. This was the perfect time!"

Free-time on Wednesday was spent shopping, sight-seeing and the usual visit to the Apple Barn for apple pie and ice cream.

Before leaving on Thursday, they had lunch at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, the big house next door to the Apple Barn.

Several years ago, Randy and Jackie introduced the group to "The Top of the River" in Gadsden, Ala., and this has become the final stop where they enjoy the restaurants' delicious fish, with all the trimmings, which has won them a rating of "100."

JOY members enjoying this trip included Bobbie Anthony, group leader, Randy and Jackie Hearn, Curtis Blocker, Max Chism, Mandy Hailey, Lilly Partridge, Mazelle Skinner and Ray Fleming.

Bobbie Ruth Anthony, Senior Adult Committee Chairperson at East Philadelphia Baptist Church, is a very busy person planning trips for these very active, "on-the-go" seniors.

Bobbie submitted this account of a trip the Just Older Youth (JOY) Group at East Philadelphia made to Cross Mountain Ministries (CMM) in Porterville on Thursday, Nov. 14.

CMM will be observing a Candlelight Service on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

For further information about the candlelight service or scheduling a visit to CMM, you may you may call 601-513-3348 or 601-743-5913.

Their address is 62115 Townsend Road, Porterville, Mississippi 39352.

Bobbie writes: "Cross Mountain Ministries is a ministry of Harvestime Church and is located on top of the highest spot in easten Kemper County and there CMM have erected a very large white cross on their grounds to represent the respect and love they hold for our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Everyone should visit this very special place and meet their pastors, Doug and Melanie Stokes.

"At this time of year, CMM is massively decorated for the upcoming holiday season, Christmas and the birth of Baby Jesus.

"Just absolutely breathtaking!

"The love this church family shares with everyone and their humbleness are traits hard to find in America anymore.

"We were so blessed to just have the opportunity to be with these Christian people and it was a great Thanksgiving experience. Try it-You will like it!

"After grace was given by Melanie Stokes for the meal we were about to receive, one of the best cooks ever, Dot Puckett and her wonderful cooking crew, provided us with a bountiful and delicious Thanksgiving meal: cornbread chicken dressing, green beans, whole kernel corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, peach salad, rolls, homemade plain cake (for the diabetes we had with us), pumpkin pie, tea and coffee were served to us. Um! Um! So tasty!

"After lunch, we were so blessed by CMM with live music and their singers; then Pastor Doug Stokes shared how CMM came into being (he was asked to tell the story) and then he voiced an inspired short message followed with a Special Blessing Prayer for each one of us.

"Oh! How the Holy Spirit filled our hearts with love and encouraged us to earnestly serve our Lord with all our heart and soul.

"The following JOY Group members were the recipients of such loving and gracious blessings: Bobbie Ruth Anthony, Group Leader, Jane Barnett, Maudine Beckham, Juanita Breazeale, Vonell Breazeale, Linda Brewer, Bro. Mark Cloys, EPBC Associate Pastor, Vivian Gray, Malcolm Hailey, Mandy Hailey, Jackie Hearn, Randy Hearn, our JOY Group faithful bus driver and song leader at our nursing home ministries, Judy Herring, Lorene Hutchinson, Iola Krezic, Tinye Marshall, Kenneth Massey, Polly Massey, Georgia Nowell, one of our JOY Group pianist for our nursing home ministries, Lilly Partridge, Ray Partridge, Hoyt Payne, Betty Richardson, Mazelle Skinner and Carolyn Smith.

There were eight purple heart recipients from Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio at CMM also at the same time to enjoy fishing and hunting , just two of the many programs CMM provides."