For thousands of congregants at one very active Tucson church, Christmas offers two reasons to celebrate.
St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church will turn 75 this Christmas Eve.
At its founding in 1936, the small chapel on Campbell Avenue and River Road was accessible only by dirt roads. Reverend John Kitagawa, a rector at the church, says he continues to be inspired by the church's humble beginnings.
"To me, probably the most important and amazing historical fact is that a group of people got together in the Depression to start St. Philip's Church," he says in an Arizona Illustrated interview. "And once they made a decision in May of that year, it took them only six months to get a church building up and then they were able to have their first service on Christmas Eve 75 years ago."
Nina Bell Allen-Langley, a member of St. Philip's 75th anniversary committee, also joins the studio.
She says the year has been filled with commemorative activities, including tours of homes that were also designed by the church's architect, renewals of wedding vows and other celebrations.
Church members are also uniting on December 22nd to break ground on a new labyrinth, which they hope to complete in 2012.
"This will be our legacy from the 75th," Allen-Langley says. "It will be an experience for people of the church as well as the general public to come in at any time that they feel the need for a little quiet solitude--to walk the paths of the labyrinth, to pray or meditate, or just to seek a feeling of peace."