For the past 15 years members of the First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C., have not exchanged Christmas cards. Instead, like several other area churches, they have donated to charity the money the y would otherwise have spent on cards and postage.

Last year the church collected $300 this way-money that was given to Springvale Terrace retirement home, according to the Rev. William Moremen. The home, in Silver Spring, is operated by the United Church of Christ and houses 172 persons of various religions.

"The money is added to the 'Friends of Springvale Terrace Fund,'" said the Rev. R. Berwyn Daniel, home administrator. "The fund is used to assist all the residents here," he said.

Grace-Louise Rickard of Silver Spring, a congregation member since 1931, said, "We've been sending money at Christmas to Springvale Terrace for three or four years. Before that we would send it to our (United Church of Christ) missionaries in Okinawa or India. But they're retired now," she said.

"If you didn't get a Christmas card from a member of the congregation you thought would send one, you'd just look in the church bulletin (where names are listed) and see why," Rickard said.

This year, congregation members hung Christmas cards addressed to the whole congregation on a three-foot Christmas tree in the vestibule of the church on G Street NW. By Sunday, 33 families had hung cards on the tree, many with international themes, and most wishing "love and peace."