The United Church of Christ is holding a virtual All Saints Day worship service on Sunday, Nov. 1, to acknowledge the loss, the grief and pain of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 215,000 people in the United States have died from the virus, and Local Church Ministries leaders want to honor those lives by inviting the wider church to collectively lament that great loss.
“All Saints’ Day is a very old observance of Christian Churches. In the Northern Hemisphere, it falls exactly midway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice; the growing season has ended, the earth is turning away from the sun and entering a period of deep winter night. Losses of the past year—especially loved family and friends—are often felt keenly, as creation enters an empty, yet hopefully fallow, period,” said the Rev. Sue Blain, minister of worship and gospel arts. “Congregations often say the names aloud of those who have died, acknowledging them with candle lighting or ringing of chimes, comforting one another in this loss with prayers and presence and reminders of our faithful God.
“Surely, in this season of COVID-19, with so much loss, our All Saints’ service is much needed to remember and lament.”
The Nov. 1 service will take place on Zoom at 6 p.m. ET. Those who plan on attending are invited to register here.
The national setting is now collecting the names of loved ones lost in the year since the last All Saints Day, which one can add to here. Names submitted by Oct. 26 will be published on UCC.org and added to a scroll in the Nov. 1 service.
“We anticipate that the evening service will include contemplative prayer, music and collective opportunity to grieve, as well as celebrate the saints who have joined the community of all who have passed before us in our ancestors of faith,” said the Rev. Chris Davies. The team leader of the Faith Education, Innovation and Formation (Faith INFO), Davies plans to involve leadership from across the denomination in the Nov. 1 worship service. “We will lift the names of those who have passed, and invite a communal grief for what has been such a heavy year for so many.”
In addition to the opportunity to lament, Blain said the All Saints’ service “also may assert most poignantly our resurrection faith, and celebrate the ‘Communion of Saints.’ This church tradition reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit that is building community among us—around the world, throughout time, and even through the passage of death itself. The confident acclamation ‘¡presente!’ (‘Here with us!’) is a custom emerging from Latinx churches who have been engaged in struggles for justice and liberation, calling on the ancestors to be present. In this season of COVID-19, with so much challenge demanded of faithful workers, our All Saints’ service may help harness the power of our ancestors to inspire, empower, guide.”
Those who plan to attend should register here. Add names to the collective list here. If a church created a communal public project of grief, Faith INFO is inviting photos to be sent here UCCPhotos@ucc.org to be included in the service.
More clarity around the service, including participants, is expected in the next week.