As is the tradition, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on Monday, December 17, lit the National Christmas Tree, signaling the start of the Christmas festivities. She called on Liberians, during this season, to reach out to the less fortunate in their communities, and said that the culture of giving should characterize this festive season.
According to an Executive Mansion release, before lighting the National Christmas Tree, on the Grounds of the Executive Mansion, assisted by Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, President Sirleaf thanked all who had assembled there - fellow Liberians, partners and friends of Liberia - to join her in marking another anniversary of the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Among the guests was the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, who is heading a delegation on a four-day visit to Liberia.
Said the President: "To all of you, may we use this occasion for reaching out to someone - someone near, someone far - to show some care, to share in the tidings of this event. There are many out there who won't know where their meal will come from for Christmas. There are many out there who are not in the position to even enjoy Christmas. May we all strive to find someone whom we can make happy during this Christmas season."
Ahead of the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, the audience heard musical selections by the Sinkor United Pentecostal Church and the Trinity United Methodist Church Choir of New Kru Town. The Rev. Charles Levi Martin, of the C. Levi Martin Outreach Ministry, gave a selection following the lighting of the National Tree.
Bishop Steven T.Y. Benda, of the Sinkor United Pentecostal Church gave the Invocation, while the Closing Prayer was delivered by Pastor Mathew B. Kollie of the Garden of Prayer of God. Ambassador David Anderson, Chief of Protocol of the Executive Mansion, welcomed the guests.
Among the dignitaries at the well-attended ceremony were: Hon. J. Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives and members of the 53rd National Legislature; Acting Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and Justices of the Supreme Court; members of the Cabinet and officials of Government; the Doyen and members of the Diplomatic Corps; members of the Clergy; and many well-wishers.
As she has done in previous years, the Liberian leader used the occasion to also light the Christmas Tree on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, at the invitation of Acting Chief Justice Korkpor.
Holding candles, and to the music of the two choirs, the guests strolled to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building, where the President hosted a reception in honor of the season.