National UMC tour stops in downtown Knoxville on Dec. 21

National UMC tour stops in downtown Knoxville on Dec. 21

The "True Meaning of Christmas" tour stops in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Dec. 7.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 6, 2017) -- Those meandering through Market Square with visions of sugarplums might also get a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas – and it comes with free hot cocoa.

An easy-to-find gift-wrapped tour truck will be the centerpiece of “The True Meaning of Christmas Tour” festivities from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, in downtown's Market Square near Holidays on Ice.

Knoxville is one the final stops for The United Methodist Church as it hits the road in 16 states this year to visit 21 cities to offer free hot cocoa and offer an invitation to join with others to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas. Church Street United Methodist ChurchSecond United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church have teamed up to locally host the come-and-go event. The entire community is invited.

“We want to offer our community a different type of gift: an opportunity to celebrate what Christmas is all about by engaging in service with neighbors, boosting joy and building relationships with others,” said the Rev. Chuck Starks, senior pastor at Church Street United Methodist Church.  

The day’s activities include a collection of canned goods to benefit families served by Beacon of Hope, a partnership between Church Street and Vestal United Methodist churches that serves the South Knoxville Community. The food co-op feeds 20 families a month, and additional support such as necessities, clothing, Christmas gifts and school supplies is also provided.

Attendees are invited to bring food donations to "The True Meaning of Christmas Tour" stop between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on December 21.

A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 indicated that the activities that people least liked at Christmas time are the commercialism/materialism, money/expense, and shopping/crowds. What they most look forward to is spending time with family and friends (69 percent) and religious reflection/church (11 percent).

“This tour is a unique way for the church to reach out to people who are experiencing loneliness or who want to give back to the community at this significant time of year,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, which is coordinating the month-long expedition. “More than 500 volunteers from local United Methodist churches are partnering with us to make this a multi-state effort.”

The True Meaning of Christmas tour will stop in 21 cities from December 2-24. Follow the tour online at and #UnwrapChristmas.