Washington Square United Methodist Church offers 'blue Christmas' service

Rev. Jerry L. Lowans said it was important to help people struggling to get through the holiday season

December 21, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Judy Teeter lights candles Wednesday during a "blue Christmas" service at Washington Square United Methodist Church on Washington Avenue in Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

A 62-year-old Hagerstown woman is having a difficult time this Christmas season.

The woman, who would only give her first name as Vicky, said she always spent Christmas with her sister. But her sister committed suicide on Halloween.

"Christmas doesn't seem like Christmas this year, because it's just too full of sadness," Vicky said following a "blue Christmas" service Wednesday night at Washington Square United Methodist Church on Washington Avenue in Hagerstown.

Vicky said her sister suffered for years from depression. It has  been hard for the family to accept the suicide, but Vicky said one positive aspect of her sister's death is that she was a organ donor.

As a result, her sister's cornea, lungs, liver and kidneys went to help someone else go on with their lives.

Vicky said what has made her sister's death more painful is that other relatives have died around holidays.

Vicky's grandfather was buried on Christmas Eve; her father was buried on the day before Christmas Eve; and her mother was buried on Mother's Day.

People at Washington Square United Methodist Church were ready to help Vicky and others struggling to get through the holiday season.

The Rev. Jerry L. Lowans said he felt it was important to offer a "blue Christmas" service to help people who are having trouble dealing with death of loved ones, divorce, illness and job loss during the holidays.

People often have a detailed plans for their lives, but things can happen quickly to change the "script," Lowans said.

Lowans told about 15 people during the 7 p.m. service that it is common to experience anger, depression and denial after devastating experiences. But they are phases that one must endure, he said.

People who have experienced such tragedy might be able to help others endure the process, he said.

"That's how God uses us. So go forth and grow in your journey," Lowans said.

Lowans said this is the first time his church has held a blue Christmas service.

During the service, those in attendance were invited to come to the front of the sanctuary, say aloud the name of a lost loved one and light a candle in their memory.

Some wiped their eyes as they sat in pews.

Megan Gossard, 17, of Williamsport said she was "just getting through the holidays."

Gossard said a relative of hers passed away a year ago, and it has been a tough experience because the two were close.

Lowans has also experienced loss. His wife and sister died after being diagnosed with cancer, and a 13-month-old grandson died after an accident in his house, he said.

"Oh mighty God there are many things we don't understand in life. It's not easy. Be with us this evening," Lowans said in prayer.

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