They’re Canceling Christmas! What?

Les Feldman

A couple of years ago we started to hear rumblings. It was not that long after we published our Good News, October 2019 issue when we featured the First Baptist Fort Lauderdale “The Fort Lauderdale CHRISTMAS PAGEANT” as our front cover feature along with my companion column when I mentioned attending my first, First Baptist pageant in 2005, the first of many years of hosting my friends. 

You can read about that here.

At that point the Christmas Pageant was returning for the 36th consecutive year. A colossal extravaganza. 

First Baptist Fort Lauderdale had a new Lead Pastor, James Welch, and rumblings were then soon heard First Baptist was calling an end to that annual tradition and refocusing to other priorities…

Canceling Christmas? Nah, couldn’t be… just a rumor, we thought at the time. It’s an institution. It’s a Fort Lauderdale way of life. People made ticket reservation’s a year in advance. Families built gatherings around the annual three week sold-out “cast of thousands.”

And there was more. The congregation was restless. The stories leaking out were not good, and they kept coming. Change is inevitable, but long time congregation members were leaving (or asked to leave) and some were heartbroken. We heard them; everyone heard them.

We made some confidential calls, had conversations, but in the end we stepped back, accepting this is one of those God things we’ve come to appreciate; He has a better plan.

Many years ago, I was privileged to sit on the Board of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Tourism Board. For the better part of a decade, I was volunteer Chairman of the Marketing committee. We had annual reviews of our marketing, and every two years we reviewed our advertising agency to assess how they were positioning our South Florida tourism market nationally and globally; tourism was our regions number one industry. The process included Agency rebids for the mega multimillion dollar account, and ad agencies beat a path to our door from all over the nation with hopes of landing our prized account. The review process was intense; each agency had only about an hour to impress and make the cut to move on to the next round. With nary an exception each and every high powered nationally renowned agency lead with “rebranding” our logo. Why? Simple fact was they could not stand looking at or working with someone else’s brand creation; they just couldn’t or wouldn’t. They needed to put their own “brand” stamp on us as they politely suggested they could do better. It was a pride thingWe understood it, and usually just winked at each other; it’s just a parochial fact of life?

Even before, very early on, as I write from time to time about my former life, I had an eclectic group of business associate friends. One such friend was “Russ” a 6’8” graduate of Marquette University (yes, basketball). Russ was station manager of a very successful FM radio station, and I loved talking rock radio, rock music and college BB with Russ every time we crossed paths along his ascending radio career in Florida. One day at the end of lunch he says, “Buddy, this may be it for a while. I’m leaving Florida.” On no! what, why? “Well, I have this great opportunity(?) I’ve been offered the station manager’s job at our network’s FM flagship station in San Diego.”

That sounded great for a career path: top job at the top station. So, what are you going to do? “I’ll go out to San Diego and lock myself in a room at the radio station for about a week and first try to learn and figure out what they’ve been doing to make them sooo successful and try not to screw it up!” with a roar of laughter from a huge man.


I encourage you to read the companion story by GN Editor Shelly Pond on page 36. You may also be interested to read the feature article we published in 2019?

Happy Easter. He has Risen!


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