First Baptist Church’s Office Manager Amy Sparks attaches greenery to the giant tree.

There will be a living Christmas tree at the First Baptist Church, Maryville, this Christmas season.

The 24-foot tall living Christmas tree is made of scaffolding decorated with greenery and lights. Approximately 22 choir members will stand in the scaffolding while singing the musical cantata “City of Light” by Tom Fettke.

David Robertson, First Baptist Church music minister and SSM Health St. Francis Hospital chaplain, has been instrumental in developing the tree. Robertson has been creating living Christmas trees for 18 years.

The idea began when he lived in California. His church decided to construct a living tree after reading a magazine article about them and congregation member Ralph Hopkins drew up some plans.

As Robertson moves to new churches, he helps each of them construct a living Christmas tree using Hopkins’ design.

Construction of the Maryville tree began in July. The center of the tree is comprised of a four-inch steel pipe and trusses were constructed and donated by a member of Robertson’s former church in Owensville.

Due to spacial constraints, each of the four layers was built separately and will be fitted together when assembled. Several volunteers have been working every day for the past few weeks to finish the tree. Next year, staff anticipates it will only take a day to reassemble.

“This is our gift to the community. I hope we pack the church,” Robertson said.

The free performances will be 7 pm, December 9 and 11, First Baptist Church.