Tomorrow, November 23, 2013, we will hold our 16th annual Service of Remembrance. Our first Service of Remembrance was held on November 30, 1997 at the Cambridge United Presbyterian Church. This was not something never been done here in Cambridge or the surrounding communities. I had heard of such a service being held at a funeral home in the Capital District and I knew it was something wanted to do.
I still remember that first year. I needed to get all the equipment together. Since we would be lighting a candle for each person who had died since we bought the funeral home on July 2, 1996, I needed over 100 candle holders. I found a restaurant supply company that sold me three cases of small glass candle holders. I made a skirt to go around the table that would hold the candles-the same one that I will use tomorrow. I had to put together a program, find musicians and plan a reception afterwards. And then I had to hope that people would come! One hundred three guests signed the book the first year. Our Service of Remembrance was a success and it became a tradition.
Some things have changed over the years. We moved to the Embury Methodist Church the second year (due to church politics) and have been there ever since. This church presents a bit of a challenge since the sanctuary is upstairs and we use an electric chair to move those who can’t do the stairs. (There are some funny stories associated with that.) I The equipment and game plan are in place, I just have to get everything out and take it to the church. I have wonderful musicians that have been with us for several years. They consider it a privilege to participate. There is a great crew that helps with the food and set up for the reception. The “script” is mostly the same and I know it fairly well.
It is a lot of work and expensive and the big question is: Will they come? Several years ago we invited the funeral home in a neighboring town to join our service. Together we have 100 names so there are 100 candles to light-actually 101 since we always light a final candle for anyone else that we might be thinking of. We hope there is a family member is present to light the candle. If not, we light the candle. Each year there seems to be less families represented, more candles for us to light. Each year I question whether or not to do the service next year.
Looking back through the Guest Book, I am astounded to realize how many of the attendees though the years have gone on to be the recipients of a lighted candle. In one way it makes me sad but it also gives me a wonderful feeling of satisfaction knowing I have served them in many ways.
Below is the invitation that we send to families but all of the community is invited.
This is the invitation sent to families:
“And I will light a candle for you.
To shatter all the darkness and bless the times we knew.”
Dear Junior and family,
These words to the beautiful song by Paul Alexander are a special part of our annual
“Service of Remembrance”, where a candle will be lit in memory of your mother.
You, your family and your friends are invited to join us on Saturday, November 23rd
at 1:00 PM, at the Embury United Methodist Church. There will be readings, lovely music and the candle lighting ceremony, followed by refreshments and fellowship.
The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, can be a difficult time for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. We offer this special time to come together with others who may be experiencing similar feelings.
Since we do not have the addresses of all your family members, please share this invitation. If possible, please call and give us an idea of how many plan to attend. However, if you are undecided about attending, that is fine. Feel free to just show up.
We know that you might find this a difficult event to attend. We also know that you will be glad if you do come.
We really hope to see you.
The Staff of Ackley & Ross Funeral Home and McClellan Gariepy Funeral Home
“A Service of Remembrance”
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
Embury United Methodist Church
41 East Main Street
Cambridge, New York
To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.