NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain community gathered virtually Monday evening for the Longest Night, the sixth annual National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event, in honor of those homeless and formerly homeless who have lost their lives in 2020.
Though there were technical difficulties with the live stream, the ceremony hosted by the Friendship Service Center, South Congregational Church and CMHA still went on.
The ceremony opened up with a beautiful rendition of The First Noel, sung by Quoron Walker, in front of the illuminated Christmas tree in Central Park.
“We pray that all of you who mourn the passing of these children of God will find comfort and solace in this service tonight,” Rev. Jane Rowe said. “We are glad that you have joined us from your homes or wherever you are right now. Though we are separated in body we are joined in spirit as we remember these dear ones who have passed.”
Rev. Gervais Barger led the service with Rev. Rowe leading prayer invocations and the reading of scriptures.
“Other years (the service) included reflections from people who themselves have experienced homelessness, but we did not include that this year because we were for one thing limiting the speakers so we didn’t have a lot of people sharing the microphone, but also limiting the length of the service because it was outdoors and we knew it would be cold,” Rev. Rowe said.
The reflection was done by Rev. Rowe.
“My reflection I connected to the Christmas story and how many of the people in the story were outdoors,” she said. “The birth of Jesus happened in a barn, the Sheppards were out working all night in the fields and the wise men traveled outdoors by night for a very long journey to get there so I was kind of connecting to people who have had the experience of living outdoors.”
Rev. Barger gave a more personal look at those being honored with the meditation and the reading of the names of the known New Britain homeless community members who passed in 2020.
In the past years the reflection and reading of the names was typically done by Rev. B. Suzy Rivera, who works with the Friendship Center and is an ordained United Methodist Minister.
The Friends of the Friendship Service Center lit up luminaries as they do each year on the longest night, in conjunction with the service, to help bring greater awareness to the plight of the homeless people. The friends’ goal this year is to get more groups and businesses involved to light up the downtown New Britain and surrounding communities virtually.
Monday marked the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This day is chosen each year as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to emphasize the plight of the homeless and their need for shelter, particularly during cold weather.
Donations can be made to the “Friends” at Friendship Service Center, PO Box 1896, New Britain, CT 06050-1856.