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Greet the Christmas dawn at Colony Church in Bishop Hill

Greet the Christmas dawn at Colony Church in Bishop Hill

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​BISHOP HILL – The Christmas tradition of Julotta returns to Bishop Hill State Historic Site this holiday season with a nondenominational church service at 6 a.m. Christmas Day at Colony Church. All are invited to attend.

The word Julotta comes from the Swedish words for "yule" and "before dawn." Christmas morning in Sweden historically begins with attendance at the Julotta service. Since 1970, the service has been a tradition in Bishop Hill to help reaffirm the community's Swedish heritage.

The public is invited to attend the worship service at the restored Colony Church, which was constructed in 1848 by Swedish immigrants. Leading the liturgy will be the Rev. Lisa Unger of the Stronghurst and United Methodist churches. Readers will include Ben Strand of Bishop Hill and the Rev. Rebecca Gearhart of the United Methodist churches of Bishop Hill and Galva. Ann Larson will play the organ, with special music by Courtney Stone.

Coffee and rusks, a Swedish pastry similar to biscotti, will be available in the Colony Church Museum after the service. Those planning to attend the liturgy should dress warmly, as the sanctuary will be unheated during the service.

The community of Bishop Hill, founded by Swedish immigrants in 1846, is located 20 miles south of Interstate 80 and 17 miles east of Interstate 74 in Henry County. Colony Church is located at 101 Maiden Lane in Bishop Hill.

The Bishop Hill State Historic Site will be closed Christmas Day, except for the Julotta service, and on New Year's Day.

For more information on Bishop Hill and other state historic sites, visit


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