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We attended the Christmas Country Church Tour in Cape Girardeau, Perry, and Bollinger Counties on December 14 and 15, 2017. I really enjoy this tour! There are 32 churches to visit, but because I do not get off work until 5 p.m., there was no way to see them all. I would have liked to have seen some of them during daylight hours. I understand that they tried it on a weekend one time, but that it did not work out well because everyone was holiday shopping instead. In addition, some churches have Saturday evening worship. I suppose if one is serious about this adventure, a vacation day or two would have to be saved and planned in advance for a Thursday and Friday adventure, unless one is retired.
Here is a map of our Thursday evening drive, in order below.
1. On Thursday, I wanted to go to the one furthest from Cape Girardeau where we live first, so we first visited St. Mary's of the Barrens Catholic Church, 1811 W. St. Joseph Street, Perryville, Missouri. This is also where my ancestor John F. Geile is buried (Mt. Hope Cemetery).
Grandiose is the first word that comes to mind when I walk inside.
There is so much to observe, even the ceilings.
There are so many nooks to explore, find, and observe there is no way to share them all on this page.
The paintings are incredible, including framed and the ones directly on the walls. I liked what this one said.
Here is a mini alter and worship area in one nook. We were provided reading about the church, but I have not had time to read it yet.
Above the main alter area is the assumption of Jesus painting. The details are amazing.
Underneath the assumption of Jesus painting on the ceiling is the assumption of Mary painting. I had to ask what this scene was and the friendly lady explained it to me.
I could have stayed here for a while and looked around more, but there were so many churches to get to in only a few hours.
Here are a few photos of the outside that I took on November 28, 2018.
30. Our next stop was Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, 172 PCR 920, Sereno. I wanted to stop here because my ancestor John F. Geile was working in a field in Sereno where he was found dead and I want to learn more about Sereno. This is a new church, but there was a church here (if I remember in 1904 or so) and I wondered if John would have also attended church here as well as the first one.
I really loved the minimalistic design of this church with the white walls and the white carpet. It was so clean and nondistracting from a focus on God alone.
2. Our third stop was Hill of Peace Friedenberg Lutheran Church, 510 PCR 305, Friedenerg (not to be confused with Friedenberg more commonly known).
Everywhere we went there were candles outside lining the walkways. Really beautiful!
This is the alter at Hill of Peace. I liked the print of the Lord's Supper and studied it a while.
Such a classic old country church.
Hill of Peace let us ring the church bells which was super fun! The first rope rang the bell from inside and was run every time for worship and the second rope knocked the bell with a hammer and was used for funerals. You could feel the difference when you tugged the rope.
27. On our way to the next church we had to drive over two miles on a country gravel road that twisted and turned. There were few houses and it was certainly an adventure in the dark. We kept wondering if there really was going to be a church at the end of the road or if we would have to make the long drive back in the dark. Not having researched in advance, it is quiet fun to find the treasure at the end of the road.
The treasure at the end of this road was Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 2888 PCR 314, near Crosstown. There were other houses near the church and there is a paved road closer on the other side of the church (where we will travel next), but we were told that from the direction we came, the gravel road was the only way to get here.
This church only had a few lights of electricity from the ceiling and is the only church with chairs (from a catalog) and not pews. There is no heating or cooling in the building.
We were told that the chairs to the left of the alter were the Amen seats where men sat to encourage the pastor during the sermon.
An old fashioned Christmas tree and snacks. There are snacks at every location on this tour, which is awesome because we had no time for dinner.
I loved the simple candle on the chair.
I love the old piano and the natural decorations.
There are so many details to be enjoyed, not just in this church, but every church. The workers at each church really gave of their time to not only decorate, but to be a friendly informative presence.
31. Not far away was Zion Lutheran Church, 21202 Highway C, Crosstown. We loved the red doors and wreaths.
I loved the a-frame structure inside.
32. We were running low on time and there were so many churches close by that we did not linger as long. Our next stop right down the road was St. James Catholic Church, 21694 Highway C, Crosstown.
I wish I could have lingered and observed longer, but our time was running short. Isn't that what photos are for?
25. We had inadvertently passed up this church, but with directions from the last church, we were able to quickly find it going back down the road. This is Bethlehem Baptist Church, 160 PCR 350, Crosstown. We were in such a hurry that I did not take a photo of the outside of this church.
24. We thought we were out of time with only 15 minutes left, but were told that the next church was 5 minutes away. With the assistance of verbal directions, we were able to find it quickly and squeeze in one more tour that night. This is Salem Lutheran Church, 287 PCR 328, Farrar.
The inside was beautiful with that classic German alter.
This is the map of our trip on Friday night. On Thursday night (above) we had covered all of the most northern churches. You can see from this map how many churches we missed. I suppose those will be where we go next year.
12. Our first stop was St. John's United Church of Christ, 781 State Highway FF, Fruitland, another church with welcoming red doors and stained glass windows.
It was certainly a small but lovely old church with wonderful woodwork on the ceiling.
Down each side of the sanctuary were these fabulous stained glass windows.
13. Our next stop was Pleasant Hill Presbyterian, CR 541, Fruitland. As you walk up to this church you feel as if you are stepping back in time.
I seem to be developing an infatuation with ceiling patterns and textures. Each church is unique. We seemed to be in route with another group of photographers that took a long time and I had to wait for them before I could take photos, so we spent some extra time at this church to allow the other group to get ahead of us on the trail. There were lovely snacks in the room out the door to the right of this photo and I met someone I knew and we chatted. Hubby enjoyed playing with the old-fashioned hand fans.
On our way to the next church we passed by The Pie Safe and I have always heard great things about this restaurant. It was in an old building that appeared to have been a bank. There was a room that was a "safe" with candy and other goodies for purchase. We were offered a special of a sampling of favorites of the restaurant. We decided to split a meal as we were not hungry, but wanted to try the food and we were not disappointed. Not shown in this photo was the dessert that came with the meal. The Pie Safe is known for their desserts which you can order an dpick up. As we love antiques, we enjoyed the old tables and chairs and other things about the place.
16. Our next stop was Zion Lutheran Church, 264 Main Street, Pocahontas. The outside reminded me of a classic old Lutheran building.
Here is a photo of the inside of the church. It seemed difficult to get a photo with no people. Friday night sure was busier than Thursday night.
15. Our next stop was St. John's Lutheran Church, 158 Little Street, Pocahontas, another classic German Lutheran church.
This is the inside and the first thing I note is the huge pipe organ up front as well as the classic German alter.
My favorite part of St. John's was the teal, green, and taupe stained glass windows, but that is just because these are some of my favorite color combinations. I took several photos of the windows.
16. Our next stop was Apple Creek Presbyterian, at the junction of CR 530 & 543, Pocahontas. The GPS does not pick up this address but we were able to get directions from other travelers headed the same direction as we. It was not hard to find, just going down the street from St. John's and turning left to travel a short distance down the road. My husband had actually remembered being here once we drove up because his cousin is buried here and the service was here.
This church is lit only by oil based lighting. When one first walks into the foyer, there is a kerosene camp light hanging from the ceiling.
This church is a real gem to step back in time.
18. Our next stop was Immanuel Lutheran Church, 320 CR 516, New Wells.
I loved the blue carpet (rather than red) inside this church as well as the framing of the ceiling. It really made for a grand entrance and the walkway down the isle is long and I can just imagine a bride walking down.
21. We debated on whether to make the drive up to Alternburg because we were running out of time and the direction was away from home, but we decided to make a go of it. Our next stop was Immanuel Lutheran Church, 8234 Main Street, Altenburg. I visited this church again in 2022 and took a video. See this location in the Christmas Country Church tour 2022 video.
Isn't it amazing how many beautiful churches are in this area of Missouri? I can imagine they are all over the country just the same.
20. Our next stop was Trinity Lutheran Church, 57 Church Street, Altenburg, which is next door to the museum below.
Yet another amazing German alter that has stood the test of time.
I love this unique poinsettia tree at this church.
19. Our last stop was the Lutheran Heritage Center, 75 Church Street, Altenburg. We drove by the log cabin, but did not take photos. I have been to this museum and log cabin many times. Here we see more than 50 themed trees, German Christmas collectibles, and other Christmas delights. I visited here in 2022 and took a video snippet of EVERY tree! See this location in the Christmas Country Church tour 2022 video.
To see everything in these several rooms would take more time than a rushed tour.
Each tree has a unique theme, most of them, of course, related to history.
I happened to look up and saw this and thought to myself, "how many people never look up?"
This tree had a santa head and coat over the whole tree. How creative is that?
This is just a sampling of the many unique trees!