Thanks to the work of two men, those lamenting the Christmas season for a variety of reasons are being offered hope and a chance to gather with others who may be facing similar losses.
Joining forces, Russ Adams, minister at Western Reserve United Methodist Church, and Wally Sinn, vice president of Lane Funeral Homes, are working together in the hopes that the bluest of Christmases will pale as a result of shared compassion at a Blue Christmas service.
Having served as minister at the church for 19 years, "I've always tried to look for something new to do," said Adams, adding that it was at a meeting that he encountered someone who held a Blue Christmas gathering every year for a small group who would get together and support one another during the holidays.
Sharing that Blue Christmas services are something offered throughout the country, "Forty-six percent of all Americans wish that Christmas would be cancelled they can't afford it," said Adams, adding that the service is open to those dealing with losses of all kinds - loss of a loved one, one's home or job, someone who may have moved away from their community and is new to the area, or any loss that might make the holidays stressful.
With last year the first time the two men put their heads and hearts together to provide the event, "The people at Lane have been great," said Adams. Speaking on the first service, he said that in a time when people generally tend to hustle home following an event, "It was one of those thingswhen it was over, people stayed." Participants lingered and talked, sharing their stories, he said.
The Blue Christmas event will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Anstrom Chapel, 8387 Tod Ave., Boardman, where Adams said he will speak, scriptures for the season will be read, and people will have the opportunity to share if they like.
Calling the candlelight service "meditative in nature," Adams said the importance lies not in the number of those in attendance, but rather that the event helps those present.
"I think it really fills a void for people," he said.