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NStar Gives Pilgrim Church an Early Christmas Eve

Pilgrim ChurchOn Sunday, December 15, 2013, a power outage brought cold temperatures to many Dorchester households for approximately 12 hours. For the Pilgrim Church, holding its morning service without electricity, it brought the look of an early Christmas Eve candlelight service and visual memories of the sadness of Sandy Hook, almost exactly one year ago.

"In the Bleak Midwinter," the name of a famous Christmas hymn, aptly describes the weather and its consequences on the weekend of December 14-15, 2013.  On that Sunday morning, one of the power grids in Dorchester that included some residences close to Hancock Street, Columbia Rd and homes to the west was hit by an underground fault.  According to Tracy at NStar, the earliest report of an outage  occurred at 10:43 am while power was not restored until 10:39 pm.  The cause?  "Oh, boy," she said, "a lot of technical jargon here.  Looks like an underground electrical problem.  A fault was blown." 

The outage occurred the morning after the skies had dumped around 6" of snow in Boston, then flattened that to a very wet and heavy 4". "Yes, the church service is still on.  People have already arrived," that from a 10:30 am phone call to Rev John Odams at Pilgrim Church.  Not 15 minutes later, circumstances had changed.  Inside the church it was dark - both the office and the hallway that leads to the worship hall. 

The sanctuary was also dark.  Who forgot to turn the lights on? 

Slowly the darkened images of people moving about came into focus.  Rev. Odams and members of the congregation were attempting to create the aura of divine light by inflaming every candle and candelabra available.  Initially the darkness and no electricity was jarring to one's senses and expectations, certainly not conducive to a normal church service.  Within moments, the sanctuary looked like the intensely sad images that had been prominent in the news almost exactly one year ago from the Sandy Hook massacre.

Sandy Hook Candles

Without the ability to play songs from their popular CD's and without the organ, the congregation happily accepted changes to the order of worship - no usual "hymn sing" where parishioners could request all manner of hymns from the hymnal and songbook.  Instead, they selected their Christmas carols and sang them with gusto:  Silent Night, Joy to the World, Angels we have Heard on High and O Come all Ye Faithful.

For the entire service, the soft glow of candles created the ambient light.  The one exception was a "hurricane lantern" with two compact fluorescent light bulbs (strange looking) that lit the podium for the readings.

At the opening of the service, Rev. John announced that Christmas Eve had come early to Pilgrim and, after the service, confessed that he had been hoping the power would not suddenly return while the service was taking place.

NStar did not know how many people had been affected by the power outage but Dorchester residents who had been left in the cold were certainly glad to see the lights go on.

Thanks to Hunt Middle School in Burlington VT for their image.  http://huntpto.blogspot.com/2012_12_01_archive.html

From the past:  A Christmas Hallelujah - Remembering All who have been Lost to Violence

Posted: December 16, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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