WOULD BAR SANTA FROM CHURCH
Edgeley Minister Protest Against Saint Nicholas Exercises
Fargo, N. D., Dec. 15.—That Santa Claus exercises should not be confused with Christmas exercises and that Santa Claus should not be allowed in a house of worship, is the contention of Rev. Francis C. Willekes, pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Edgeley, N. D.
Firm though he is in the belief that it is a desecration to allow Santa Claus exercises to be given in the church on Christmas, Rev. Willekes finds the Sunday school of his church as firmly opposed to him in his belief on the subject. In a communication, Rev. Willekes says:
"A great deal of talk is going on in regard to the position I take concerning the so-called Christmas exercises in our church. I am sorry to say that again I am misrepresented. I am not against Santa Claus exercises: I am not against the wholesome pleasures for young and old, provided they are held in private homes, schoolhouses and halls, and are called by their right name: Santa Claus exercises.
"But I do most humbly object when Santa Claus exercises take the place of Christmas exercises and are given from the pulpit of a Christian church, for there is no connection whatever between the Roman Catholic bishop, Saint Nicholas and Jesus Christ.
"Santa Claus should be separated from Christmas; it is done in Europe where they celebrate the birthday of the good saint on December 5 and 6. This is the only way to keep the Christian church pure from worldly though innocent performances.
"Again do not misunderstand me. I am not opposed to Santa Claus exercises, but not in the church of Jesus Christ for they do not belong there.
"If I were your permanent pastor, I would prevent any Santa Claus exercises on Christmas in the church, but owing to the fact that I will be here," referring to his Edgeley church, "only one Christmas, I will limit myself to an earnest word of protest.
"With this official statement I consider the incident closed."
The above was the statement of the matter announced by Rev. Willekes from the pulpit last Sunday. The pastor goes on to say:
"I am officially informed that notwithstanding my protest, my Sabbath school is determined to give a Santa Claus cantata in the church. Where are we going when the shepherd is disobeyed by the sheep in the lawful exercises of his duties, and what is the use for such a church to have a shepherd?"
Grand Forks Evening Times, 12/15/1911