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Angels fill the yard of North Raleigh United Methodist Church in North Carolina during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Photo by Sue Ellen Rosen

Photo by Sue Ellen Rosen

Angels fill the yard of North Raleigh United Methodist Church in North Carolina during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Angels fill the yard of North Raleigh United Methodist Church in North Carolina during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Photo by Sue Ellen Rosen

Photo by Sue Ellen Rosen

Angels fill the yard of North Raleigh United Methodist Church in North Carolina during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

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Angels in the yard provide honor, comfort

 

By Taylor Bush
September/October 2017

It Worked for Us

During the Christmas season, angels can be found on tree tops, in nativity scenes and covering the front lawn of North Raleigh United Methodist Church in North Carolina.

Anyone driving past the church may feel the need to stop and admire the 200 white angels that stand side-by-side. The angels stand in honor of family, church members and small groups such as Sunday school classes. "It is a beautiful visual display of the season," says the Rev. Eric Lindblade, the now retired co-senior pastor of North Raleigh UMC. "It has even led people who have driven past and seen the angels to come and join the church."

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Each angel is bought by a member of the congregation and dedicated to honor a person or group during the annual Chrismon service. After the Chrismon tree is decorated, the congregation shares a special litany before lighting  the angels.

The display of four-foot angels begins the first Sunday in December. It remains until January when the United Methodist Men and other volunteers disassemble them.

The tradition of decorating the yard with angels began in 2003 when Sue Ellen Rosen came to North Raleigh Church with hopes of passing on a tradition from her parents' church in Virginia. "Every year we see the tradition grow. It started with 90 angels and has grown to over 200," says Rosen. Volunteers of all ages come from the church and community to help make the display possible.

Each angel holds a special meaning, especially to those who have lost loved ones and find the holidays to be a difficult time. They often find comfort in the angels by dedicating one to their lost friend or family member and visit it during Christmas time. "The tradition can be a very important part of the healing process for some members of the community. It is a subtle, yet powerful message that angels of our loved ones are always with us," Rosen says.

Taylor Bush served a six-week summer internship at United Methodist Communications. She is now a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in entertainment and media.