In the Roman Catholic Church, as well as various Protestant denominations, All Saints Day is celebrated on Nov. 1, by honoring all those church members who have passed on over the previous year.

About 15 years ago, Emmanuel Community (now Ecumen-Detroit Lakes) began holding an All Saints service each year, on the Sunday closest to All Saints Day, to honor those residents (as well as family members of staff and residents) who had passed away in the previous 12 months.

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“I think (former Emmanuel chaplain) Vicki Marthaler started it,” says Peter Gallatin, who took over Marthaler’s duties as chaplain last fall.

This year, the service will actually take place on All Saints Day, Sunday, Nov. 1, at 3:30 p.m.  What makes it even more special, Gallatin said, is that it will be held inside Ecumen’s newly renovated chapel, after having been held at nearby Trinity Lutheran Church for the past two years due to ongoing construction at Ecumen.

“And this week also marks my one-year anniversary as chaplain,” he added, noting that the All Saints service was one of his first duties after taking on the job last year.

“It’s a very simple service,” Gallatin said, “with hymns and scripture readings.”

The focus of the service, however, is when the names of those lost are read aloud. As each name is read, a bell is rung and a light is lit in their memory, he said.

Those honored at the service include not only Emmanuel Nursing Home residents who have passed on, but also those from Lamplighter, The Madison and The Cottage, as well as the family members that residents and staff have lost over the previous year.

“It’s campus-wide,” says Sandy Lia, Ecumen’s development director, who has helped to organize the service for the past few years.

Lia said she became involved with organizing the All Saints service after they decided to combine it with Ecumen’s Lights of Honor celebration, about four years ago.

Lights of Honor are small lanterns that, for a $25 gift, can be brought home to remember a loved one who has passed on, or someone who is still living that you would like to honor, she explained. The tea lights inside are lit briefly during the celebration, at a set time, in tribute to the participants’ loved ones.

“What’s so cool about these lanterns is that you can bring them home and light them throughout the year, during holidays and special occasions, to honor and remember the person it represents,” she said.

All of the proceeds from the Honor Lights will be invested in enhancing the residents’ outdoor living spaces at Ecumen-Detroit Lakes, Lia added. If you are unable to be present for the ceremony, Lights of Honor can also be purchased and mailed out after the celebration.

Afterwards, a reception is held, including a light lunch and refreshments. All of the day’s activities are open to the public, Lia said.

For more information about the Lights of Honor, please contact Sandy Lia at 218-844-8340 or

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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