Over 150 people in two Staffordshire Moorlands communities dedicated a light to a lost loved one thanks to a bright idea by a local parish.
Faced with an increase of funerals in a normal year, and restrictions on numbers who could enter their church building for services, the churches of St Giles in Cheadle and St Chad’s in neighbouring Freehay decided to remember those who had died using solar lights in their churchyards.
Rector the Revd Nicky Grey explained: “We are a parish with two churches and a significant funeral ministry. We have been working hard alongside families in grief for the last couple of years and All Souls’ Tide had become a significant point of engagement and follow up with the bereaved families in our town.
“Sadly, with funerals 15 per cent up on last year – what were we to do this year? To invite all the bereaved families and friends to church would have meant six All Souls services and restricted numbers would have been counterproductive. But we were reminded of Jesus’ words: ‘Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’”
Each light had a tag attached which could include a personal tribute to the person it represented. The idea proved popular with a total of 155 lights dedicated across both churchyards, raising over £1,400 towards the project’s costs and parish finances. It also fed into a special All Souls service featuring words of hope from families who had lost their loved ones which was streamed on Facebook and Youtube, resulting in over 1,500 views.
Positive words of feedback poured onto the parish Facebook page including: “Absolutely loved this chance to dedicate lights to my lovely mum and dad. Thank you all for your hard work, they have been beautiful” and “This is such a lovely way to remember our lost loved ones. Thank you so very much.”
Nicky said the project “ shifted our community engagement up a gear and was achieved in a deeply pastorally, sensitive way.” She paid tribute to Parish Administrator and Leadership Team Member Beth Flashman who oversaw the initiative with “courage and passion” and also sang movingly in the All Souls service.