PARKERSBURG - The days aren't always merry and bright during the holidays.
That's why some area churches are holding special services to provide comfort for those struggling during the holidays. Whether it be divorce, loss of a loved one or being far away from family, the services are intended to lift spirits and provide comfort for those who may be hurting.
The first of these services will be a Blue Christmas service at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at First Lutheran Church, 1701 19th St., Parkersburg.
First Christian Church is preparing for The Longest Night service at 7 p.m. Dec. 21.
"We felt like in this time, when everyone says you should be happy, there are a lot of people hurting and we wanted to be there for them," said the Rev. Ian Reid, pastor of the church.
Reid said this will be the third year the church has had this kind of service and that the church normally sees a small group of about 10-15 people attend.
Reid said the service will last around 45 minutes and that those attending will be able to light a candle to try to find comfort. Reid said that candles are used because they are associated with finding peace.
If You Go
* The First Lutheran Church will hold a Blue Christmas service at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the church, 1701 19th St., Parkersburg.
* Crossroads United Methodist Church and the Waverly Bethel Presbyterian Church will hold The Longest Night service at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Waverly Bethel Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of First and Walnut Streets, Waverly.
* First Christian Church, St. Andrews United Methodist Church and Christ United Methodist will hold The Longest Night service at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at First Christian Church, 1400 Washington Ave., Parkersburg.
"(I hope) that they receive the peace from God that only he can give," Reid said.
The next service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20 by Crossroads United Methodist Church and Waverly Bethel Presbyterian Church. This is called The Longest Night Service and will be held at the Waverly-Bethel Presbyterian Church, located at the intersection of First and Walnut streets in Waverly.
The Rev. Elizabeth Campbell-Maleke from Waverly Bethel Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Diane Kenaston from Crossroads United Methodist Church have been planning the service with their congregations over the past few weeks. This is the second year the churches have collaborated to hold the event. Last year the service was planned only by the pastors and this year it was a group effort.
"This year we really wanted it to be planned by the laity," Kenaston said.
The service will begin with the lighting of one candle and as the night goes on, each person in attendance will light a candle, so that at the end of the night all the candles throughout the church will be lit.
Kenaston said that the candles will show how the "light of Jesus Christ overcomes the darkness of our world."
There will also be singing of advent and Christmas songs, communion and scripture reading. There will also be a short meditation on how Jesus Christ speaks to the world.
"We hope that people take away that they are not alone," Kenaston said.
Following the service there will be a reception where people will be able to send a hand-made card made by the members of Crossroads United Methodist to someone who they are thinking of this holiday season.
Another Longest Night Service will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at First Christian Church. This service follows in the tradition of the longest night services because it is held on the longest night of the year, which has more darkness than any other day, said the Rev. Janice E. Hill, pastor of the church.
"This is an opportunity for those who struggle this time of year, no matter what the problem is," Hill said.
This is the second year the church, along with St. Andrews United Methodist and Christ United Methodist will hold the special service.
"It is a service to acknowledge the reality of where we are and give hope," Hill said.
The service will include an optional candle lighting for each of those in attendance and an option to write what they are struggling with on a piece of paper and put it in a basket if they don't want to say it out loud. There will also be an optional communion.
Hill said the service last year drew in around 40-45 people and she is prepared for that many and more this year.
"We will be prepared for 40 to 400," she said.
Hill said that those who aren't struggling, but that want to come and support those who may be having a hard time, are also welcome. She also said that this is a non-denominational event and those who attend can participate as little or as much as they want.
"I hope that there's a greater understanding of the human condition and that there's hope," Hill said.