United Methodist Temple in Beckley will host its “Longest Night” service at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21. The service is designed especially for those who have difficulty handling the holidays, Pastor Daniel B. Johnson said.

“For anyone who is dealing with a dark time in their life, these winter evenings can be very lonely, and many folks suffer depression at this time of the year,” Johnson said.

From June to Dec. 21, daylight diminishes by a minute or so a day. Beginning Dec. 22, daylight begins to increase.

“Dec. 21 has the distinction of being the shortest day and the longest night of the year,” Johnson said.

Several years ago, he initiated the tradition of the Longest Night service, and although the attendance is small each year, those who come find it comforting, Johnson said.

“There have been times we considered not having the service, but folks have told us how much it means to them, so we want to make it available, not just to our congregation, but to the whole community,” he said.

Those who have found solace in the service in past years have included people who have recently gone through or are in the throes of a divorce or separation, someone who has received a diagnosis of cancer that has put a question mark on the future or anyone who just wants to come and fellowship with others for a long evening, Johnson said.

“The service will focus on hope and the awareness of God’s love,” Johnson said.

“This will be a service of quiet reflection with gentle music, readings and a short homily. There will be an opportunity to light a candle for a loved one or for oneself during the ceremony.”

A time of fellowship will follow the service.

“We hope folks will come and take advantage of this opportunity to focus on the God of light who is there for people at the dark times of their lives. This service may make it just a little easier to get through the weeks ahead,” Johnson said.

— E-mail: bdavis@register-herald.com

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