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Local News

December 19, 2012

Area clergy plan services to help healing

Grief and sadness spurred by personal loss, or tragedies such as the shootings last week in Connecticut, may make Christmas joy difficult to find, said local clergy who plan special services to address feeling “blue.”

“It’s really a difficult time,” said the Rev. Maryellen Moore, pastor of United Methodist congregations in Portlandville and Milford. She will lead two “Blue Christmas” services Sunday morning to offer time to meditate, pray and light a candle to recognize emotional pain, she said.

“It’s basically a healing service,” Moore said.

The Rev. Randy Palada said he will lead a special service at the First Baptist Church in Oneonta on Friday night.

“The holidays can be difficult,” Palada wrote about reasons for the service. “Despite gifts, family gatherings and Christmas carols, the season can be dark and lonely for those who struggle — from the recent death of a family member or friend, the end of marriage, loss of work, other trying change, or a tragedy, such as the Newtown shooting.”

Twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., died after a gunman broke in and opened fire Friday morning. The gunman, who had killed his  mother before going to the school, committed suicide.

On Sunday, some local clergy led congregations in prayer, and that prayer effort continues, said the Rev. Cynthia L. Walton-Leavitt, pastor of the Red Door First United Presbyterian in Oneonta.

In response to inquiries about a special community service regarding the shootings, Walton-Leavitt said, she has suggested attending regularly scheduled mid-week services.

Some residents who don’t have a church home but who wish to attend a gathering because of the Newtown tragedy may find comfort in attending one of the services planned in the next week, such as a Quaker service, Walton-Leavitt said.

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