By LOIS KINDLE
Not everyone’s heart is gladdened by the holiday season and all its festive celebrations. There are many among us whose loss of a child, parent or spouse makes this time of year almost unbearable.
On Dec. 8, the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center wants to support these folks by hosting a Blue Christmas candle lighting service linked to a worldwide candle lighting conducted annually by The Compassionate Friends grief support organization. It’s for anyone mourning the absence of a loved one and longing to be part of an act of remembrance.
“This free candle lighting event is a faith-based service, and it’s open to everyone,” said Laura Heinrich, a member of the church working with staff to promote the event. “Last year, we had 80 people in attendance, and by spreading the word this year, we hope we can help support even more.”
Worship Arts Director Jeff Jordan and his wife Amanda, the church’s communications leader, will lead the service, which will include some beautiful music.
The service starts at 6:45 p.m., and the candle lighting begins sharply at 7. Every attendee will receive an ornament in remembrance of those they lost and a candle to be lit. Light refreshments will be offered following the event.
“This is for anyone who’s grieving someone in the midst of all the joy of Christmas,” Heinrich said. “We want them to know they’re not alone and share the hug of a virtual wave of candle lighting circling the globe as folks light their own candles in different time zones.
The annual Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle, including Blue Christmas and other associated events, is now believed to be the largest event of its kind.
“There are so many people in our community who have a sadness in their hearts during the holidays,” she added. “We want to embrace and comfort them in their time of need and offer them a place where they may find meaning during the holiday season.”
Debbie Caneen, admissions director for the Sun Towers Retirement Community, agrees. “With the average age of our residents in the mid-80s, we have many who have seen the passage of children and other loved ones in their lives,” she said. “I’m so grateful for Blue Christmas, where mournful hearts come together to remember and celebrate those they lost.”
The United Methodist Church of Sun City Center is at 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W.
For more information, call Pat Hill at 813-634-2539.