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MASSENA — Christmas isn’t always a joyful season for some community members, but Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, 39 West Orvis St., wants to make sure they’re not alone.

The church will hold a “Blue Christmas Service” starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Those who can’t make the service in person can watch it on the church’s YouTube page: youtube.com/c/EmmanuelCongregationalUCCMassenaNY.

The Rev. Judith Van Kennen, church pastor, said the service is for anyone who’s feeling blue and struggling to embrace the Christmas season.

Individuals might not be cheerful for a multitude of reasons, including the death of a loved one, the first holiday following a recent divorce or loss of a job, living with chronic illness or pain, clinical depression or battling a disease like cancer. She said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people will look at Christmas in a different way than they have in the past.

The service will offer an opportunity to remember people and events that have been part of our lives in the past, but are now changed or gone.

“This year is especially difficult as we continue to battle COVID-19 and find nothing as it once was,” she said. “I’m hoping this service will help ground people and know that God is still God and he cares about you.”

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Rev. Mrs. Van Kennen said she doesn’t expect a large crowd at the church. They normally draw about 24 people.

“I think many will take advantage of it on YouTube,” she said.

The church began holding the “Blue Christmas Service” when it was temporarily operating out of the former Adath Israel synagogue building following a devastating fire at its church building in 2007. The service lasts for about an hour.

Later this week, the church will offer an opportunity to virtually enjoy a Christmas concert by James Phillips that was recorded a few years ago. The video has never been seen in its entirely.

The concert will go live starting Sunday at youtu.be/wZZftGX85eA and will be active until New Year’s Day.

“People can enjoy that and enjoy the Christmas spirit,” the Rev. Mrs. Van Kennen said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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