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Every year on the first Sunday of November, Loop Christian Ministries gives members an opportunity to commemorate loved ones who have died. It does so by holding an All Saints Day service.

Rev. Tim Douma, pastor of this Christian Reformed church in Chicago, explained that All Saints Day (also called All Souls Day) dates back to the early church as a commemoration of the life and death of Christian martyrs. Later a special day was set aside to remember saints who had died, along with their commitment to Christ and his church, a commitment that often led to suffering and death for the sake of the gospel. In time, the service came to include a time of reflection and thanksgiving for friends and loved ones who died.

“We observe this day to remember the ‘cloud of witnesses’ that have gone before us and to acknowledge as a community the grief and hope that is an ongoing part of the lives of those within our fellowship,” Douma said. “These saints made us laugh and corrected our foibles, even as they displayed weaknesses of their own. They dried our tears, brought us gladness, and helped us find faith.”

During the service people come forward to light a small candle from a large Christ candle. Each candle represents a family member or friend who has died during the past year. The names of those loved ones are read later during the service.

—Ruth Moblard De Young

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