Meet Rick Grant

By LORETTA FULTON

Wylie Baptist Church is celebrating its 40th year of producing the Living Christmas Tree, an annual gift to the community that involves almost everyone in the congregation. 

This year’s productions will be held Dec. 8-11 at the church, 6097 Buffalo Gap Road. Tickets are free, but required. They are available at the church office or by calling 692-3206. 

The Living Christmas Tree features 60 voices perched in the tree structure, plus another 55 people who perform the drama or are involved in technical support.

The Living Christmas Tree was first staged at Wylie Baptist Church in 1982 by Dalton Stewart, who brought the idea to Wylie Baptist from a church in East Texas. Since 2007, it has been under the direction of Rick Grant, associate pastor at Wylie Baptist Church. 

Since this is the 40th anniversary, Grant said the 2022 productions will include some “amazing visual enhancements” and some of the best special effects from past years.

“Our theme and title this year is ‘King of Glory,’” Grant said. “It is my prayer that all that attend will experience the majesty and splendor of God.” 

Bio
Name: Rick Grant
Current position: Associate Pastor, Wylie Baptist Church
Age: 64
Family: Married, two children, and 4 grandchildren
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Wayland Baptist University, Plainview , Texas
Work experience: 40 years in ministry



Q&A with Rick Grant

Q Were you the founder of the Living Christmas Tree or did it already exist when you came to Wylie Baptist?

A  The LCT began in 1982 under the direction of Dalton Stewart, who brought the first LCT to Wylie BC from East Texas.  I began directing the LCT in 2007.

Q Does the program always contain original music and lyrics or do you purchase some of it?

A  The music is purchased from gifted writers and composers from various Christian music publishers. The script is written in-house each year.   

Q Where is the tree stored when not in use?

A  It is stored on a trailer and kept inside a large storage facility.

Q How many people does it take to assemble it? How long?

A  Generally, there is a team of 15-20 people that construct the “tree.” From start to finish requires about 7 hours.  After the structure is built, then it takes about two more days to connect all the lights to the computer and decorate the 30-foot structure.

Q How many voices are there in the tree?

There are 60 voices in the tree.

Q How many other church members participate in the drama?

A  About 55 additional members make up the drama cast and technical support teams.

Q What are the age ranges of the participants?

A  The youngest would be the child playing the part of baby Jesus.  Usually only a few months old and the range goes up to age 84.

Q Do you foresee any major changes in the future, either in the format of the production or the content?

A  The storyline is consistent each year. We center the presentation around the nativity of Christ. But the music and script are created fresh each year.

Q With this being the 40th anniversary, are you adding anything special this year?

A  We are bringing back some of the best special effects from years past. Can’t give away the surprises but we do have several amazing visual enhancements this year.

Q Abilenians see the Living Christmas Tree as an annual gift to the community. Does knowing that impact the performers?

A Our church is honored to present the Christmas story in this very unique manner to the Big Country and beyond. It is a church-wide endeavor and all our participants want to encourage and create an atmosphere of joy and celebration to all those that gather to experience this annual event.

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