Loved ones symbolized by First Church luminaria display

WESTFIELD-A recent fundraising project – a dazzling display of luminaria – will benefit the Deacons Fund at First Congregational Church.

“The Deacons Fund has been in place for many years,” said head deacon Carol Whalen. “In the past we have helped members pay their fuel bill during the winter months, provided gift cards for food for those who have needed a little help, and other instances that come up as people run into hard times in their lives.”

Whalen explained that the project began last year at Christmas and continued this year – with each luminaria costing $5.

“The First Congregational Church presented the display of luminaria on Dec. 12 on the Old Town Hall steps next to the church,” said Whalen, noting the fundraising project is sponsored by the deacons of the church.

Kailey and Karenna Downs, members of First Congregational Church in Westfield, prepared the luminaria bags for display on the Old Town Hall steps Dec. 12. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

“Members and friends of the church had purchased a luminaria in honor or memory of a loved one,” said Whalen.

Last year’s luminaria featured 60 on display and this year’s event had 142.

The money raised is deposited in the Deacons Fund which is used to help members and friends in the time of need.

“We do this at Christmas time because we all have loved ones we think of and want to remember at this time of year,” said Whalen. “This gives the donor an opportunity to express that love in a unique way.”

Each luminaria has a label with the name of the person remembered or honored and the name of the donor.

“We began this project last year and we continued it this year and hope to make it part of our holiday plans each year,” she said.

Whalen added that a display will be featured on Christmas Eve titled “Lighting a Pathway to Our Door” and will include some luminaria on the church doorstep.

“Last year our first display was at the same time as the Christmas Choral Concert which coincided with the Lantern Parade and Tree Lighting on the Green event,” said Whalen. “While we could not conduct the concert this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully, that will all happen next year.”

On a related note, Whalen said the church continues to present Sunday services online, led by Pastor Julie Olmsted. Services can be viewed by visiting churchonthegreen.org or on Facebook.

More than 140 luminaria bags were displayed on the Old Town Hall steps recently as the First Congregational Church conducted a fundraising project to benefit the Deacons Fund. (CAROL WHALEN PHOTO)

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