Church’s performance brings applause, tears from 200+ inmates at DeKalb Co. Jail

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The Sheriff’s Church, Nazareth Baptist in Rainsville, performed a Christmas Play for more than 200 inmates at the DeKalb County Detention Center on December 18. (Photo: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office)

Nazareth Baptist Church in Rainsville presented its Christmas cantata to more than 200 inmates at the DeKalb County Detention Center on December 18. (Photo: DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office)

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) – A local church continued an annual tradition this week, performing a Christmas musical for inmates at the DeKalb County Detention Center.  As it is each year, it was a joyous event but an emotional one too.

Nazareth Baptist Church of Rainsville performed for more than 200 inmates on Thursday, December 19.  Sheriff Jimmy Harris attends the church and invited the choir to start doing this five years ago.

Robert Reed, the church’s worship pastor, said the choir has been working since October to learn this year’s cantata, a compilation of songs.  The singers will present their annual performance for Nazareth Baptist this Sunday, but they honestly get more enjoyment from the gift of song they give the inmates, too.

“I think my choir looks forward to the jail even more,” Reed admitted. “It’s really the reason we work on these musicals. It becomes the reason we do this — the anticipation of being able to go and minister to the inmates in the jail.”

As soon as the choir starts singing, many of the men and women in the audience get a bit emotional.  They give a big round of applause after each song.

“Being away from home, and away from family at Christmastime, hearing those familiar carols… maybe it gives them a little bit of hope and joy at Christmas,” Reed said.

Some of the music is new, but other parts include familiar carols such as Silent Night and Joy to the World, and the inmates join in.

“I think we walk away with a bigger blessing than they do,” Reed said.

Sheriff Harris said many of the inmates shook his hand as they went back to their cells to thank him for bringing the choir in.

The church’s pastor, Jason Bell, also preached a message to the inmates during the visit.