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Kansas churches offer ‘Blue Christmas’ services

December 16, 2017

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Several churches in Kansas are trying to meet the needs of people struggling emotionally this holiday season by offering Blue Christmas worship services.

Blue Christmas services tend to be more subdued and sometimes reflect on themes of loss and hope, the Wichita Eagle reported .

“Everywhere they go they’re expected to sing carols and be happy, and this is not that place,” said Leslie Coates, director of first connections at First United Methodist Church in Wichita.

Reformation Lutheran Church’s Blue Christmas service will include communion and quieter holiday music, said the Rev. Mari Larson, the church’s senior pastor.

“Christmas just feels alien to them,” Larson said. “Many have told me and other pastors they won’t be joining us for Christmas Eve services because they just can’t do it. ... The whole world is cheery and they’re not, and they feel like they don’t belong.”

A survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research found that nearly 70 percent of respondents said they often or sometimes felt fatigue during the holidays. The survey also found more than 35 percent said they often or sometimes felt sad during the holidays. More than 25 percent said they often or sometimes feel loneliness.

Offering spaces like Blue Christmas worship services can help people acknowledge difficulty at a time of year when cold weather and less sunlight contribute to depression, said Dr. Matthew Macaluso, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

“It’s getting darker out, it’s getting colder out, more people are starting to feel depressed simply because of that and yet as a society we’re putting up lights, spreading cheer,” he said. “It’s difficult for people who feel sad or depressed around Christmastime when they look around and everybody else is happy but they are not.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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