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Blue Christmas service reaches out to bereaved

WINCHESTER — The recent loss of former Winsted mayor Anthony Cannavo in a tragic accident underscores the fact that the holidays can be extremely difficult for people who have lost loved ones. For those who are grieving, the pastor and parishioners at Winchester Center Congregational Church are offering a place to turn for help and support.On Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. Pastor Jacquelyn Hall will lead a special Blue Christmas service at the historic church on the Winchester Center Green, for people who are struggling with grief, pain, fear and struggles and may not be feeling up to participating in the “forced merriment” of the holiday season.“It’s a service for folks who may not be having as happy a time because they’ve lost a loved one or maybe they’re going through a divorce,” said Hall, whose two-year anniversary as pastor of the church will come in January. “Last year we did it for the first time and we sent out invitations to folks we knew who had lost a loved one in the past year. Because we hadn’t done it before we wanted to see how it was received, and it was well-received.”Hall sets up a special Christmas tree for the service, and participants are invited to write messages on ornaments made for the occasion.“We light the Advent candles and instead of for hope, joy peace and love, they’re for overcoming grief, pain, fear and struggle,” Hall said. “If you look around the room and you see other people are hurting just as bad as you, you don’t feel so alone. That’s what this is for.”A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Hall was a guest pastor at Winchester Center Congregational before she was asked to take the position full-time in January 2009. She called the church “a pretty happy place” where parishioners are always working to help others. “I love them,” she said.Hall said the Blue Christmas service is an important event for her because it opens the church to people who might otherwise feel neglected during the holidays. She acknowledged that many families are already struggling due to difficult economic times and said that getting together to deal with a significant loss can help with healing.As the days leading to Christmas pass, a manger in front of the church will steadily become more occupied with animals, angels and shepherds in preparation for the appearance of the baby Jesus. Hall said the joy of sharing the blessings of Christmas will be evident in the church’s birthday party for baby Jesus with food, crafts and cake on Thursday, Dec. 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in which children take part in the celebration.Sunday advent services will be held Dec. 11 and 18, from 10 to 11 a.m., and a Christmas service takes place on Christmas day, Dec. 25, also from 10 to 11 a.m.For more information about any of the services, call the church at 860-379-8900 or visit www.winchestercentercongchurch.org.

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