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Planning a Blue Christmas Service
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By Gary Taber
 
I believe that there were three important pieces in the nuts and bolts that made our 2014 Blue Christmas service at the Corona church successful:

1:   Holding the Service Early in December
If you look up Blue Christmas on the internet you will discover that most churches that hold them do so on December 21. This is because it is the longest night of the year, thus symbolizing the darkness that grief causes. We chose to hold it on Friday evening, December 12 for these reasons:
  • Holding it earlier would give those grieving an opportunity to face their loss and the impact it would have on their celebration of Christmas with their families.
  • Holding it earlier in December would avoid the last day rush that might keep people from attending, including church members helping with the service.
  • Holding it earlier in the season may enable those grieving to enjoy more of the season
  • Holding it on the 21st runs the risk of people already leaving town to be with family.
  • By not being tied to the 21st of December, we avoided holding the service on a week night when it might be harder for people to attend.
2.   Holding the Service in the Fellowship Hall
We chose the Fellowship Hall over the Church Sanctuary for the following reasons:
  • Church Sanctuaries can bring up reminders of the funeral, whether it was held in a church or a mortuary chapel, since they often have a church look and feel. This might make it harder for people struggling with the loss of a loved one to attend.
  • It might be easier for non-members or people who do not attend church very often to attend in a Fellowship Hall than in a sanctuary
  • We could do more to create a warm atmosphere, set up the room and decorate in such a way as to encourage participation and interaction in an informal setting than in the sanctuary
  • We could create a more intimate and caring atmosphere in the Fellowship Hall by limiting the number of seats set up in one area of the church so that it brought people together rather than having them spread out in the sanctuary, thus creating more isolation
  • We were able to have the refreshments in the same room, thus encouraging people to stay by. This had a side benefit of enabling our elders to pray with those present.
 
  1. Giving them gifts to take home
We wanted to give them items that would show that we were interested in more than just having them attend a service. We wanted them to have some tools to help them deal with their loss in positive ways that would help lift the sadness and heaviness created by their loss. We gave them three items:
  • A throw blanket. We were surprised at how many people found it brought them  comfort.
  • A copy of Larry Yeagley’s booklet, Life After Loss.
  • A card that gave a number of ways they could honor their loved one or make them a part of their Christmas celebration. We came up with a number of solid suggestions by brainstorming about what could be done.
 
Gary Taber is lead pastor for the Corona, California Church. If you have questions about  organizing a Blue Christmas event, feel free to contact Gary at taber.gary@sbcglobal.net