CARTHAGE, Mo. —
It may not compare to Silver Dollar City's holiday-light extravaganza, but the musical Christmas light display at a small country church between Carthage and Jasper is pretty impressive.
The light show, created by Peter Frost in 2010 as a senior-class project at Carthage High School, has given new meaning to the concept of outreach ministry at Mt. Moriah United Methodist Church.
Inspired by the annual SDC display, which has more than 4 million lights this year, Frost knew he wanted to go a step further than normal light displays.
"At most places you go, there is music and there are lights," he said. "I have tried to make my display about the music and letting the lights accentuate it. In other displays, it is almost like the music goes with the lights. But with mine, the lights go with the music."
Frost, 19, has been a member of Mt. Moriah since childhood. He has programmed favorites such as "Amazing Grace" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" to work in harmony with the lights flashing on and off. The 15-minute show has grown from about 10,000 lights the first year to more than 45,000 today.
Frost began with a 10-foot tree (actually, it's a pole with lights) and five small trees surrounding it in front of the church. Then, in 2011 he added lights to both the church and Sunday school buildings.
This year he has doubled the number of lights, increased the pole size to 20 feet and added two more little trees.
Those who would like to see the display should drive up to the church, located at 15506 Nutmeg Road, north of Carthage, and dial their radios to 89.7 FM, where the music is timed to the lighting display.
"It was my idea to tie the lights into the radio, which only works in the church driveway," said Frost, a business major at Pittsburg State University. "The 89.7 FM channel is a blank channel that the FCC allows to be used for the lighting display only."
Another reason for using the radio, Frost said, is to keep peace among the neighbors, who may have objected to loud songs for such an extended period.
The display runs tonight through next Saturday, Dec. 22, before continuing on Dec. 24 through 31. Listening and viewing times are from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Although the musical light show has proven to be an exciting project for the church, it has also been a worthwhile ministry to raise funds for former church members Nathan and Melody Durant while they are in the mission field. Visitors may leave money in the outdoor donation boxes, with all proceeds going to Like Elijah Ministries, which the Durants oversee.
Anyone wishing to get a preview of the show can look up Mt. Moriah Lights on Facebook. Those interested in scheduling a group visit may call Frost at 417-793-6409 or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach the church from Carthage, drivers should go north on Garrison Ave., past Kendricktown, staying on the outer road (County Road 138) for 4 miles. Then turn left on Nutmeg Road and drive for another 1 1/2 miles.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.