Posted 12/15/11 – Busy day this Sunday. United Methodist Church has a Chorale Performance scheduled at 4pm (click link for details and cost info). Then at 5pm, Sierra Madre Congregational Church has a Christmas Concert scheduled (170 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.). Then at 7pm, the 40th 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 with the newly restored creche figures, 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.