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Amityville church to hold Blue Christmas service in wake of Sandy
Reverend Louise Stowe-Johns had heard of a Blue Christmas ceremony years ago and had thought about bringing it to her congregation in Amityville many times before.
She worried about its “appropriateness” in past years and wondered if anyone would benefit.
“This year there was no question,” she said.
In the wake of superstorm Sandy, which greatly affected the South Shore community of Amityville, Stowe-Johns, who is pastor of the First United Methodist Church, thought a more demure Christmas service was exactly what the community might need.
The Blue Christmas service will feature passages that focus on hope, acknowledge loss and remind participants that God is with them even when they feel abandoned, Stowe-Johns said.
They won’t sing “Joy to the World,” or ask people to pretend to be happy.
“I’m hearing people say they are just not in the Christmas spirit,” she said. “There is this sense of ‘oughtness.’ I ought to be in the Christmas spirit. This service honors the fact that there has been significant loss -- whether personal or in the community -- and the church cares about that.”
Stowe-Johns, who was appointed to the Amityville congregation in 2005, said at least 25 families in her congregation were “seriously affected” by the storm, and she was finding that they were either not in the mood to celebrate or were just too fatigued by the business of putting their lives together to think about it.
She said she is not asking congregationalists for formal responses, but there has been a lot of interest in attending. The service is also open to the greater community.
Robyn Hyland, the church’s musical director and an Amityville resident, said the music will help set the tone of the service.
“Music can touch people,” she said, adding that she will likely play piano rather than the organ and she is looking for a guitarist. “It will be much more quiet, reflective music as opposed to bouncy and upbeat.”
Hyland said she thinks the service is appropriate for this year.
“So many people didn’t expect the storm to be as destructive as it was,” she said. “But the community did come together and the attitude is still ‘It could have been worse.’”
The service will be held at 8 p.m. Monday at the church, which is located at 25 Broadway in Amityville.