Posted 12/23/15 – On Sunday evening at 7ish pm, the 44th Candlelight procession took place down Baldwin Ave. to Kersting Court. There the statue of the baby Jesus was placed in the manger of the creche by Jesus and Mary (portrayed by children from Sierra Madre Congregational Church), and members of the clergy from local churches read scripture and led the crowd in Christmas carols and hymns.
Father Richard Krekelberg of St. Rita Catholic Church welcomed the crowd on the steps of his parish, and once everyone had caroled their way down Baldwin Ave., the other members of the clergy participated in the readings. The participants included Pastor Briant Cuffy of Bethany Church of Sierra Madre, Father Michael Bamberger and deacon Ed Sniecienski fo the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Pastors Gavin Ortlund and John Stothers of Sierra Madre Congregational Church, Father Bruno D’Souza CO of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, The Rev. Sangman Shin of Sierra Madre United Methodist Church, Monsignor Krekelberg and Deacon John Hull os St. Rita, and the Rev. Cynthia W. Crowell of Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Music was provided by the Pasadena City College Faculty Brass, and Peter Vecchio led the crowd in song.
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.
Below the video, you’ll find a picture gallery. Click a photo to enlarge it.