Eastern Mennonite University’s campus is about to get a lot brighter as the university starts a new tradition for the holiday season.

Throughout December, the front of EMU’s campus will be covered in lights, with a kickoff event Monday that featured Christmas carols, refreshments and the official lighting of the campus.

“As a Christian liberal arts university, we have a strong reason to celebrate Advent and Christmas together in community, including our students, faculty, staff, families and others,” said EMU President Susan Schultz Huxman. “With great teamwork by facilities management, Student Life, marketing, campus ministries and a host of other contributors, we all here at EMU welcome the community into this beautiful and special seasonal celebration.”

Lauren Jefferson, with media relations at EMU, said the campus has been celebrating Christmas and Advent for several years through a variety of musical concerts, student choirs, the traditional lessons and carols service and the former Christmas Tea hosted by the president and spouse.

Looking to start a new tradition, faculty and staff started brainstorming during the fall.

“This new idea arose from a series of innovation input meetings with faculty and staff this fall, who wanted a broader community event to celebrate Advent and Christmas,” Jefferson said. “They especially wanted an opportunity to celebrate more with students and also to make the campus a more festive space at such an important time.”

The lighting ceremony on Monday marked the last day of classes for students and faculty, marking the end of the academic semester and the anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ, Jefferson said.

Until Dec. 31, the public is welcome to walk through the grounds to enjoy the lights.

“The lights will be on Lehman Auditorium, the Sadie Hartzler Library, University Commons and the Campus Center and also around the fountain on Thomas Plaza,” Jefferson said.

EMU’s Christmas and Advent festivities will conclude today with a Bach Festival Christmas concert by the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. The concert is free and open to the public and will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Chapel.

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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