Vancouver church holds annual Blue Christmas service for sorrowful people

A church in Vancouver, Canada, holds annual Blue Christmas services to accommodate anyone who feels sorrowful or mournful during the holiday season due to the loss of a family member or loved one.

(REUTERS / Mike Segar)Monsignor Patrick Cahill leads a mass in sign language at St. Elizabeth of Hungary in New York's Manhattan during a Christmas service for its deaf congregation December 21, 2014.

On Dec. 20, the Canadian Memorial United Church held its annual Blue Christmas event to welcome anyone who was mourning a loved one or was struggling during the Yuletide season. Naomi Lippett, whose mother recently died of Parkinson's disease, said she felt that the service will help her come to terms with her loss, CBC News reported.

Rev. Beth Hayward shared that they came up with the idea of the Blue Christmas event after spending several years in community outreach. Over the years, the activity has attracted an increasing following and the church is now opening its doors to everyone.

"It became apparent that this time of year for people is particularly challenging, either if you've had a recent death in your family, or for a lot of people it brings up past losses," said Rev. Hayward. "Some people, it's being away from home and not able to get to where your loved ones are ... Our plan is to throw open the doors to anyone and everyone. We don't use this as a chance to try to evangelize."

The Franklin Central Christian Church in Indiana, U.S.A, also has a similar practice. Its Blue Christmas services welcome attendees with soft piano music, a call to worship, and somber preaching, The Southside Times detailed.

During its service last Sunday, Rev. Gale Stutz conveyed the message of hope brought to them by the story of Jesus' birth. He said what people are experiencing is not the end because God has the last say in their lives.

After the prayers and scripture readings, the minister lights up candles that symbolize grief, courage, love, and memories. Parishioners are also invited to light candles to remember the loved ones and family members they have lost. At the end of the service, they sing "Silent Night" and pick up small, blue glass hearts by the door as they exit the church.