news-category: Community

GWU’s Annual Festival of Lights will Premiere in Virtual Format on Dec. 3

a graphic image for the Festival of Lights featuring a string of lights and pine trees in the background

A Community Tradition for Over Three Decades, Service will be Shown on Facebook and YouTube

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University’s Festival of Lights, a beloved Christmas tradition since 1984, will continue this year in a virtual format. This annual start to the holiday season for the GWU community will premiere on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on the GWU Facebook page and YouTube channel. After the first showing, the event may be viewed on those social media platforms as well as the Gardner-Webb website.

The program will feature the reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, along with remarks from Dr. William M. Downs, GWU president; Dr. Herbert Palomino, professor of pastoral care and counseling; Carlee Winstead, Student Government Association (SGA) president; and Tracy Jessup, vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University.

“Moving the Festival of Lights to a virtual format is yet one more example of how Gardner-Webb University has maintained important traditions, while also making the health and safety of our University family and community at-large a priority,” Jessup noted. “People can still expect to enjoy the outstanding performances to which we all have become accustomed, along with beautiful views of our campus. And while we regret we cannot gather in person for this annual inauguration of the Christmas season on our campus, the virtual format will allow the celebration to be shared with a broader audience.”

a saxophone player performs during filming of the Festival of Lights

Dr. Joshua Cheney, visiting assistant professor of music, is coordinating the musical performances. Traditional carols and other Christmas classics will be presented by:

  • The Brass Choir, conducted by Tim Hudson, trumpeter and associate professor of music.
  • The Choral Union and Concert Choir, conducted by Cheney and featuring soloist Gabi Martin and collaborative artist Timothy Scruggs.
  • Solos by Mackenzie Quattlebaum, cello, and Elijah Ulysse, saxophone, with accompaniment by Caleb Etchison, piano.
  • A faculty quartet featuring Instructor of Music Jondra Harmon, Assistant Professor of Music Education Eric Johnson, Cheney and Associate Professor of Music Stafford Turner.
  • The Handbell Choir with an arrangement by Cheney.
  • The Old Time Ensemble with an arrangement by Associate Professor of Music Bruce Moser.

Following the musical performances, the lighting of the Campus Christmas tree will be live streamed with greetings from Downs and his wife, Kim, and Winstead. Afterwards, Jessup will lead the singing of the carol, “O’ Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event. Please call (704) 406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

A photo of a GWU student playing cello in the pre-recorded Festival of Lights

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