J.J. Hartenstein Mortuary has offered hope and learned lessons while holding its annual Community All Saints Day Service for the past 24 years.
"I think these services allow us as funeral professionals to not only acknowledge the pain these families feel, but also encourage them and let them know they're not alone in their grief," said Jennifer Hartenstein McGraw, the mortuary's spokeswoman.
The mortuary -- with locations in New Freedom and Stewartstown -- will hold its 25th annual service at 7 p.m. Thursday at Shrewsbury Assembly of God, 234 N. Main St. in Shrewsbury Township.
Personal: The service will feature personal grief experiences shared by three families served by the mortuary.
Also planning to participate in the service are close to 30 ministers and laypeople, musicians, liturgical dancers and soloists representing churches of southern and
southeastern York County and parts of Baltimore and Harford counties in Maryland, she said.
During the service, names of more than 400 people who died last year will be read by clergy. A hand bell will be tolled for each name read.
"It gives families the opportunity to hear the names of their loved ones aloud during corporate worship," McGraw said. "It's sacred and meaningful for them and reminds them their family member has not been forgotten."
Care program: Hartenstein Mortuary serves families in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The annual service is part of the mortuary's Continuing Care Program, which provides no-cost resources, education and support to grieving families and the community.
"It's been a privilege to share this ministry with the families over the last 25 years," McGraw said. "It has been humbling to see the families transition from the place of grief to a place of hope."
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 25th annual Community All Saints' Day Service is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Shrewsbury Assembly of God, 234 N. Main St. in Shrewsbury Township.
For information, call J.J. Hartenstein Mortuary Inc. at its New Freedom office at 993-2307 or toll free at 1-877-993-2307.