Crossroads Church held its first ever memorial lantern launch last weekend - and it turned out to be a much bigger and more significant ceremony than church leaders were expecting.
“I’d never done anything like this before,” Crossroads pastor Chris Cowan said. “We expected to have about 30 people show up and release about 10 or so lanterns.”
About a week or so prior to the event, the church started getting the word out. Anyone who had lost a loved one - especially in the past year - was welcome to come to the Crossroads on Saturday evening for a special service. At the end of the service, paper lanterns would be launched by those who wanted to remember their loved ones.
When it came time for the event to take place - over 100 people showed up. And istead of only launching 10 or so lanterns - 60 were sent up into the heavens to remember those who have passed on.
“It was a very colorful and beautiful display,” Cowan said. “We had eight different colors of lanterns go up and with 60 of them, it was quite a sight.”
During the service, Cowan invited those in attendance to come forward and light a tea light and set it up on a shelf of a wooden cross in the church. The bereaved could choose to say a few words about the loved one they were remembering if they wished.
“It was not very formal and very comfortable,” Cowan said. “We wanted to have it in a very casul setting.”
Once all the lights were placed on the cross, they were removed and then taken outside to use as the means of sending up the lanterns.
“The children loved them,” Cowan said. “It’s a very animated expression for them to be able to grieve.”
It also lit up the winter night sky by the Russellville bypass.
“We let the Russellville Police Department know that we’d be doing it just in case they felt like they needed to monitor the road in case people may be looking up at the lanterns while they were driving,” Cowan said.
The event was so successful that Crossroads will be having another memorial lantern launch in the future.
This one was the culmination of a special “Surviving the Holidays” seminar that the church led as part of its GriefShare ministry, which is for those struggling to come to grips with the loss of a loved one.
“It’s a very, very organized ministry,” Cowan said. “It can be especially hard if it’s the first holiday since losing a loved one. You just can’t sweep these feelings under the rug.”
Crossroads has been leading GriefShare seminars for over two years now. The ministry consists of a 13-week course. Cowan said that the church is currently in the planning stages of starting another GriefShare series.
It is free of charge and anyone that would like to be a part of the next group of meetings can get more information by calling the church at 726-1400.
GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone.
GriefShare seminars and support groups are led by people who understand what you are going through and want to help. You’ll gain access to valuable GriefShare resources to help you recover from your loss and look forward to rebuilding your life.
There are thousands of GriefShare grief recovery support groups meeting throughout the US, Canada and in over 10 other countries.