A Gift to Those Passing Thru Schoolcraft on Christmas Eve

John Bennett with luminaria kit
John Barnett displays the luminaria packets that the Presbyterian Church sells to decorate the streets in Schoolcraft.

By Linda Lane

Luminarias will again light the sidewalks of Schoolcraft on both sides of Grand Street (US 131) with 600 candles burning bright. Running from Lyons Street south to the railroad tracks on Grand Street, the Village of Schoolcraft will be aglow thanks to the dedicated members of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft and many volunteers from the Village.

John Bambacht, an elder with the Presbyterian Church in Schoolcraft, has been in charge of the luminaria project for over 20 years. “Each week of December we light one Advent candle which represents love, joy, hope, and peace, following in Christ’s tradition. On Christmas Day, we light the Christ candle. Our luminarias along Grand Street symbolize these Advent principles celebrating Christmas,” Bambacht said.

The project seems truly to take a village, with cooperation between the Presbyterian Church, the village of Schoolcraft, local businesses and many village residents. The endeavor requires three days of volunteers helping to organize the project. The 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 First Presbyterian Church, 224 E Cass St. to set up. The candles will be lit at dusk.

Several local businesses such as Concept Molding donate jugs used for the luminarias and a big lighted arrow construction sign is donated by Rathco to narrow the traffic on US-131 into the center lanes to provide safety for volunteers putting out the luminarias.

The Presbyterian Church will again offer kits for the public to purchase for their own use at homes in town. Two nicely packaged kits including 10-hour candles, 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. Residents may contact the Presbyterian Church office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 9 a.m.-noon at 269-679-4062.

Proceeds from the luminarias sale and support of area merchants go into the luminary fund to continue this Schoolcraft tradition. It supports the Presbyterian Church’s philosophy: “It is our gift to those passing through Schoolcraft on Christmas eve.”

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