By LINDA M. LINONIS
Though many denominations began a new liturgical year with Advent, some are closing out 2012 with special services tied to the end of the calendar year.
At Westminister Presbyterian Church, 119 Stadium Drive, Boardman, the Rev. David Joachim said Remembrance Sunday will be observed at the service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
A “necrology” reading will recognize church members who have died this past year and nonmembers whose funerals were at the church. Families have been notified about the service.
The Rev. Mr. Joachim said the service began a few years ago. “It seemed like an appropriate way to close out the year,” he said, noting deceased also are remembered on All Saints Day, Nov. 1.
Mr. Joachim said a family member or a representative of the famiy will light a candle in memory of the loved one.
“It seems like a good thing that’s helpful to most people,” the pastor said.
Mr. Joachim said that he, as a pastor, is aware that during the Christmas season “some people are really hurting” as they remember Christmases past. “They see the empty seat at the table,” he said.
The service, he said, is an “acknowledgment” of grief that families feel and possibly another step toward healing.
He added that after the names of the deceased are read and candles lighted, others will be invited to light a candle in memory of loved one who died at any time in the past. Mr. Joachim said this gesture recognizes that no matter when a loved one died, they are still missed and remembered.
Mr. Joachim said the service will include prayers for healing, the Lord’s Prayer and hymns including “It Is Well with My Soul.”
Coalburg United Methodist Church, 1906 Wick Campbell Road, Hubbard, will have a New Year’s Eve open communion service from 5 to 7 p.m. Participants will have meditation material to read and take communion when they wish.
Veda Wright, a church member for more than 50 years and organist, said the church first started the service in the 1980s. It has been offered, though not continuously, since then.
Wright plays the organ as unintrusive background music. She doesn’t play Christmas music but such selections as “I’d Rather Have Jesus, “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” “Amazing Grace” and “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past.”
“People who come have said they like it because it’s convenient and flexible,” she said. “They also like the quiet reflection time and the solitude.”
Wright said the lack of a formal service allows people to spend time with their thoughts and God and pray.
Pastor Roy Ake also will be available to pray with participants.
At First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, the 11 a.m. Sunday service will focus on “Taking the Garbage Out.” The Rev. Matt Alspaugh said the service is meant to be a “cathartic opportunity” to think about the past and make a fresh start.
The past, he said, might involve relationships, job situation or lack of job and bad or unhealthy habits.
The New Year traditionally is a time of making resolutions, starting over and making changes. The service addresses the reality that before beginning anew, the old “garbage” must be dealt with.
Molly Toth, a church member, will be worship leader. She said she views the service “as one of reflection with thinking intentionally.” Toth said she will encourage church members to think about “what influences what we do and how we work in the world.”
“It’s about what we do and don’t do,” she said. Toth also said the idea of “taking out the garbage” can refer to actual physical stuff and spiritual or behavioral “junk.”
She said making a list about what to do and what has been done is a good way to organize thoughts.
“It’s an opportunity to think about what we do and maybe change to move ourselves to a better place,” Toth said. The new year, she added, provides the perfect opportunity to start over.
At the service, people will be invited to write “discontents, complaints and gripes from 2012” on slips of paper that will be ritually burned. Toth said “flash paper” will be used to symbolically get rid of a burden.