Pageant and Blue Christmas at the First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego

Pageant and Blue Christmas at the First Presbyterian Union Church in OwegoPhoto from the 2022 pageant. Provided.

This Sunday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m., the First Presbyterian Union Church, located at the corner of North Avenue and Temple Street in Owego, is celebrating their annual Christmas Pageant with a cast of 37 children, youth, and adults (including 100 year-old Eudora Shuler as one of the angels). 

“Loving our Neighbors, Even the Scrooges” is the newly written play by William Dove. Mr. Dove, a Ruling Elder in the church and a High School English teacher in the Spencer-Van Etten Central School District, writes a creative Christmas play every year for the church that recognizes the unique personalities of individual church members and includes traditional Christmas carols for this special worship service. Special music, directed by B.J. Heinle, will include musicians playing organ, piano, trombone, and cello. 

The service will be presented in the sanctuary and streamed online at

On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. the church will offer a comforting “Blue Christmas” Worship Service of Remembrance and Hope. This annual service during the Christmas season is for those who are remembering the lives of loved ones who have died, or who are struggling with pain, loneliness, or despair. The simple service, about 30-minutes in length, will be mainly scripture readings, prayers, lighting candles, and a brief homily by Pastor Bruce Gillette.

They will sing two traditional Christmas carols and a special hymn by Pastor Carolyn Gillette that was written for this service, and is posted on the national United Methodist Worship Office website. Please note, given the nature of this worship service it will be in the sanctuary and not online. The public is invited to attend this informal service in the sanctuary. 

Presbyterian poet Ann Weems wrote a moving poem referencing the shortest verse in the Bible, grief today and Jesus’ name given at his birth (Matthew 1:23), later published in her book, Psalms of Lament:

Jesus wept,

and in his weeping,

he joined himself forever

to those who mourn. 

He stands now throughout all time,  

this Jesus weeping, 

with his arms about the weeping ones: 

“Blessed are those who mourn,  

for they shall be comforted.” 

He stands with the mourners,  

for his name is God-with-us. 

Jesus wept.

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