First United Methodist Pastor David Payne was battling a slight cough Tuesday, but he was ready to deliver the final word on a night that one of his fellow pastors dubbed the “best kept secret in Texas.”

That secret is the annual Christmas Walk, which is organized by the Kerrville Ministerial Alliance, and the event appears to be growing in size and enthusiasm. The idea is simple: People are invited to five short services at five downtown Kerrville churches. 

The result was plenty of music, plenty of laughter and plenty of praise.  

“This was a privilege,” said Payne, who was ministering for the first time at the walk and he was doing it at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. “It’s a neat deal for the community to come together and the churches to come together.” 

Payne’s humorous talk, which featured God talking a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger and a story about his three dogs, had everyone laughing inside St. Peter’s, and provided a powerful reminder of why everyone was there — Jesus and community. 

The Ministerial Alliance designed the event to not focus on denominations but on the word of Jesus at Christmas. It worked because there were more than 200 people — conservatively — who filled up the sanctuaries of the five churches. 

The participating churches were St. Peter’s, Notre Dame Catholic Church, First Assembly of God, First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian, but those who gave short sermons were not necessarily from those respective services. Missionary Daniel Schoen led the first service at First Baptist, and he was followed by retired pastor Larry Davis at Assembly of God. John Uhl, who is the new pastor of the Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ingram gave the sermon at Notre Dame. 

“I’ve preached in many different places, but this is my first time here,” Uhl said of his talk inside the Catholic church. “This is a wonderful event.”

The man who coined the phrase that this was a best kept secret was Assembly of God Pastor Phil Jackson, who enthusiastically defined the mission of the night that the money donated by those passing through the doors would benefit the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and other charities aimed at helping those in need. 

Jackson’s enthusiasm for the event was confirmed by acting pastor David Evans at First Presbyterian, who also serves on the board at

Mo-Ranch. 

“I’ve never experienced it anywhere where I’ve served,” said Evans, who has been in Kerrville for three days and didn’t find out that he was participating until Monday. “I think it’s an incredible witness to the whole community.” 

Evans also got to introduce Natarsha Sanders, First Presbyterian’s director of family ministries, who delivered a powerful sermon on the importance of Jesus during the season. For Sanders, participating in the night was also joyful.

“It’s meaningful for so many reasons,” Sanders said. “But it’s mainly because of the celebration  of the anticipated arrival of Jesus. The fact that we all get to come together, and it’s OK to be together, is very meaningful.”

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