St. Michael’s party celebrates tradition of All Hallows Eve

October 20, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Organist-choirmaster Jason Anderson is in costume for All Hallows Eve. Contributed

Organist-choirmaster Jason Anderson is in costume for All Hallows Eve. Contributed

Looking for something other than tricks and treats to go with your Halloween costumes this year? Head to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church for a traditional All Hallows Eve celebration Oct. 25.

It kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and church officials like Ann Lukens said they can’t wait to see new and familiar faces.

“All who would like to explore and experience the Christian roots of Halloween, in a warm and family-friendly environment, are invited to join us,” Lukens wrote in an e-mail. “Costumes are optional, but most welcome. “While most churches shy away from Halloween, St. Michael’s is confronting it head on and bringing it back to its roots, according to Lukens.

“Halloween — or All Hallows Eve as it was first called — originally belonged to the church. It formed the opening of a great three-day autumn festival celebrating the bonds among God’s hallowed servants in all times and places.” Lukens wrote. “As each year’s celebration came around, some of them were still living. Some were already dead. Some hadn’t been born yet. All belonged to God.

“Many folk customs grew up around the festival,” she said. “Much like the arrival of Santa at Christmas and the dyeing of eggs at Easter, wearing costumes and carving jack-o-lanterns at Halloween proved quite popular, and those activities continue to be popular today.

“What’s been lost today, however, is the assuring spiritual connection among believers that once formed the heart of the holiday,” she added. “St. Michael’s regrets that loss, wants better for our children and so we simply restore the reason for the season.”

The Sunday morning service features a children’s hymn and a pageant based on the Old Testament story of King Saul.

As enemy armies defeat Saul, he turns in desperation to the witch of Endor, who recalls the holy prophet Samuel from beyond the grave. When Samuel returns from the grave, he tells Saul a truth from God the king doesn’t want to hear.

The pageant, created by church officials six years ago, brings the point home for families that the Bible is a very supernatural book, Lukens wrote.

During the event, everyone at the celebration can participate in burning a piece of darkness in his or her life. Participants draw or write something on a slip of paper that brings darkness into their life, the papers are collected and burned in a cauldron at the church’s alter as the power of God’s forgiving love is pronounced.

“Our All Hallows’ Eve service is totally orthodox, and serves a very positive function by reuniting the orphaned secular celebration with its spiritual and historical roots,” she wrote. “The service has a marked Celtic feel, in line with the original home turf of Halloween, but otherwise, it resembles every Sunday morning at St. Michael’s: We sing together, read lessons from scripture, pray, seek God’s forgiveness and share communion.”

After the service, there is a costume contest and an opportunity to be photographed with the church’s “Great Pumpkin.”

Last year, congregation members came in everything from Darth Vader, as the church’s organist did, to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who Kody Lukens, 9, dressed up as. The two even had a sword fight.

“It’s a really neat experience. It keeps things fresh. The kids get really excited about coming to church,” Andy Anderson, a congregation member and Kody’s father, said in a press release. “The whole experience we put together is certainly fun. You see everyone at their creative best. But more important than that, this service brings families together around something deeply spiritual.”

If you go

All Hallows Eve celebration

10:30 a.m. 4Oct. 25

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

325 Darst St.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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