40 Years of Luminarias Lighting Up Schoolcraft

Luminaria Crew 2017 3
Members of the Schoolcraft Presbyterian Church who have volunteered to help distribute and light the luminarias gathered on the steps of Westminster Hall after church services. The church will also be selling crafts in the DeVries law office on S. Grand Street on Friday evening and on Saturday in the Hall. Photo by Linda Lane.

By Linda Lane

Sidewalks running from Lyons Street south to the railroad tracks on Grand Street, US 131, will be aglow on Christmas Eve with candlelight from luminarias thanks to the dedicated members of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft. Both sides of Grand Street will be lighted with 600 luminarias set out along the street.

“We’re hoping to expand the luminarias this year to a wider reach including additional streets in Schoolcraft and hopefully even into Vicksburg,” John Barnett said. He’s coordinating the luminaria project with the Presbyterian Church. “We’d really like to see all of south Kalamazoo County light up!”

To facilitate residents participating, the Presbyterian Church will offer kits for the public to purchase. Two nicely packaged kits including 10-hour burning candles, the bags, and candle burn cup will be available: a kit of eight candles for $10 and a kit of 16 for $20. Residents will need to provide their own sand, kitty litter or dirt for the luminarias.

Initiated in 1978 in Schoolcraft, this longstanding community project is a large endeavor, requiring three days of volunteers to coordinate the project. The Presbyterian Church calls upon families, kids and adults, to help fill jugs with sand and candles on December 23, load them onto a truck to light and distribute the luminarias on Christmas Eve, and return on Christmas morning to pick them up again. The public is welcome to lend a hand with the project; volunteers will gather at noon on Christmas eve at the Church, 224 E. Cass Street, to set up. The candles will be lit at dusk.

Luminarias are intended to light the path and sidewalks to invite the Christ child into their homes on Christmas Eve.

Residents may contact the Church office between 9 a.m. and noon at 269-679-4062. Kits will be available for pick up at the Church’s Westminster Hall on Saturday December 9 or 16 from 10 a.m. until noon.

Proceeds from the luminarias sale and support of area merchants go into the luminary fund to continue this community tradition. The Presbyterian Church continues this tradition with the following philosophy: “It is our gift to those passing through Schoolcraft on Christmas Eve.”

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