Disciples News Service

University church gifts massive performance to community

University Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas, will grace the community once again with the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival in January. The 37th anniversary production is January 5 and 6, at 3 and 5 p.m. each day. More than 300 participants are marshaled into a costumed pageant fit for the King.

According to Kyla Rosenberger, director of music, “Our minister in the 1970s, Dr. Albert Pennybacker, thought we had the staff and musical and theatrical expertise (partly because of our association with TCU) to present a pageant here. A committee studied several festivals around the country and then commissioned music compositions and had costumes made. Over the years our Boar’s Head has become an ever larger and more professional production. Our congregation loves doing it because it helps them experience the real meaning of the Christmas season. We can’t imagine not having Boar’s Head!”

This celebration of the victory of good over evil is perhaps the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. It began as a holiday tradition in the grand manor houses of England, and was brought to America during colonial days. There’s never a dull moment in this fast moving presentation loaded with surprise entrances and exits.

The pageant is based on an old legend, that of an Oxford student who kills a wild boar when it interrupts his studies. When the church adopted the Festival, it gained a new, Christian significance: the wild boar, symbolic of evil, is overcome by good through the teachings of Christ. Marching companies, in beautiful authentic costumes of Renaissance England, sing the ancient songs of Christendom, as they carry in the gaily-bedecked head of the wild boar, which is conquered by the innocent goodness of the Christ Child. The triumph of light over darkness is made graphic in the Christ Candle through its light and through the carvings on the wooden candleholder in our production.

The second part of the program features the original Christmas story, as shepherds and Wise Men travel to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ Child. The traditional tableau–Mary, Joseph and the baby–will be revealed as the climax, with the baby recently born to a member of our congregation playing the part of Jesus. The entire chancel and altar portions of the sanctuary will be restructured for the pageant.