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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Church members spread cheer, honor God by giving gifts


Last Sunday morning’s service at Grace Church in Spotsylvania County didn’t include a lot of praying. Instead, the congregation showed its devotion by helping others.

Pastor Ernest Custalow told the congregation that they would “become the instrument God wants us to use to help other people today.”

About 400 people were at the service Sunday, and each family selected an angel from an Angel Tree program. The program provides gifts for children of prisoners who otherwise would not have as nice a Christmas.

After selecting the angels, the families set out to find gifts for the children. Then they returned to the church to wrap the gifts and enjoy a pizza lunch.

Custalow told the congregation that the effort is a way to worship and honor God and practice their faith.

The Moore family, of Fredericksburg, was at the service on Sunday and got excited to be a part of the cause.

Mom Kayla and dad Frank, and their daughters, Trinity, 7, and Harmony, 10, excitedly set off for Walmart from the church.

They shopped for a 5-year-old girl, a 2-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy. Harmony said she wanted to help pay for the gifts they picked out.

After more than an hour perusing the aisles, they settled on several gifts. For the 5-year-old, they selected a doll and stroller, a princess memory game, and flashcards for learning addition and the alphabet.

For the 11-year-old boy, they selected the movie “How to Train Your Dragon,” a Bible and a Lemony Snicket book.

For the toddler, they picked out socks and T–shirts.

The Moores have been members of Grace Church for nearly three years.

Frank Moore said one of the reasons they decided to join the church was for events like this one. He wants to teach the girls lessons like the ones they learned Sunday.

“It’s important to … recognize the blessings they have and the humanity in caring for other people who are not as fortunate,” he said.

The girls understood the lesson in Sunday’s activities.

“It felt good to be able to help someone and bless them with that opportunity,” Harmony said. “God blessed us and showing them the same love is important.”

For Kayla Moore, it was about the mission of the Bible and showing the love of Christ to other people.

Custalow said he thinks the church collected $10,000–$15,000 worth of gifts.

By the end of the morning, the church had a giant pile of gifts the congregation had picked up for the children. They were all wrapped in festive holiday paper and were stacked at least five presents high and filled up the front of the room.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413