The Oneonta Region chapter of Compassionate Friends will join memorial events worldwide on Sunday in presenting a candle-lighting ceremony at the First United Methodist Church. In recognition of this event, Oneonta Mayor John Nader issued a proclamation establishing Sunday as Compassionate Friends Day in the city of Oneonta.

The Compassionate Friends is a national self-help support organization for families grieving the death of a child. The mission of The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. There is no religious affiliation and there are no membership dues or fees.

Annually, thousands of families light candles for one hour during The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting, held the second Sunday in December. Candles are first lit at 7 p.m. just west of the International Date Line. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lit in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world, presenters said.

The local candle-lighting will be at 7 p.m. in the Embury Room of the First United Methodist Church at 66 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, featuring poems, readings, music and fellowship. Local artist David Geer has been commissioned to create hand-painted ornaments, which will be distributed. Refreshments will follow the program.

The ceremony is open to the public; in his proclamation, Nader said "I ... encourage all citizens to pay tribute to those who have died and to extend thoughts and prayers to family and friends that have lost a child to an untimely death."

To contact the Oneonta Region chapter of The Compassionate Friends, call Paula Hickey at 433-2492, Diana Friedell at 433-2089 or Lillian Gorence at 432-0160; e-mail tcfoneonta@oneonta.edu or visit http://external.oneonta.edu/tcfoneonta. Any changes to the schedule for Sunday's events, such as a cancellation or postponement because of weather conditions, will be posted to the website at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The national organization website, www.compassionatefriends.org, features a message board for families to post tributes and a chat room for discussion.

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