Candlelight Procession Sunday Night

Circa 1988. Polaroid from the Ruth Alexander Collection. Courtesy of the Sierra Madre Historical Archives. Click to enlarge

Posted 12/22/12 - Tomorrow, Sunday, Dec. 23rd, at 7pm, the 41st annual Sierra Madre Candlelight Walk will be held, beginning at St. Rita’s and proceeding down Baldwin Ave. to Kersting Court.  There, the baby Jesus will be placed in the creche, and caroling will take place along with reading of scripture.   This year will also feature live jazz.  For more information, you can contact Congregational Church, 355-3566.

History of the Candlelight Walk

The first Candlelight Procession was in 1971.  In 1970, Pastor Bob Vander Zaag of Bethany Church had held a holiday concert in Kersting Court, with the church choir on risers singing hymns and carols for the people shopping in the local shops.  In a conversation shortly thereafter with Rev. Richard Anderson of Congregational Church, Vander Zaag suggested that as nice as the concert had been, it might be even better if local pastors gathered their parishioners in a procession through town.  Starting at St. Rita’s and walking down to Kersting Court was suggested, and agreed upon, and Fr. Gara’s parishioners were added to the mix.

Interestingly, there’s some back history that makes the evening even more special.  Back in about 1918 or so, some members of Congregational Church had split with the Church, forming Bethany Church and for many years, things weren’t always real friendly between the two churches.  Shortly after Rev. Anderson’s arrival at Congregational Church, the two churches had a mass of reconciliation, and over time, Pastor Vander Zaag and Rev. Anderson became very good friends.  The Candlelight Procession, which was started shortly after the mass of reconciliation, is undoubtedly one of the factors that, in the Christmas tradition of old friends coming together after a long separation, helped the two churches to set aside their differences and work together with their common goal of serving Christ.

The video below was made using clips of video we’ve shot over the years, the earliest being in 2006, and the most recent clips are from last year’s procession, in 2011.  Enjoy.

Comments are closed.