Halloween has spiritual meaning for churches

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Every year, the last day of October brings streets filled with glowing jack-o-lanterns, children dressed up as ghouls and ghosts and pails and pillow cases filled with pounds of candy.

But for local churches, Halloween represents the eve of one of the most spiritually significant days of the year.

Every Nov. 1, many churches in Shelby County observe All Saints Day, a day dedicated to remembering and honoring Christians and saints both living and dead. According to First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster Rev. Mark Davenport, churches celebrate and remember saints, both living and dead, who have impacted the congregation and the community on All Saints Day.

“We look at Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, as the eve of All Saints Day,” said Rev. Lee Lowery, rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Alabaster. “Some people think of the holiday as a pagan day, but we have a different view. We aren’t against Halloween at all.”

Lowery said, like many other holiday traditions, Halloween is “what you make of it.”

“Any darkness in the holiday is just a reflection of the darkness of society in general,” Lowery said.

Davenport said he views negative views toward Halloween as “silliness.”

“It has been labeled as the devil’s holiday and really drug through the mud. All of that is quite silly to me and to the congregation I serve,” Davenport said. “We don’t fall prey to the idea that somehow evil forces subvert our children and our communities because we dress up and act all ghouly and ghostly and strangely that night.”

Lowery and Dr. Jay Kieve, pastor of Crosscreek Baptist Church in Pelham, said they use the holiday as a way to minister to their congregations and reach out to their communities.

Every year, Crosscreek Baptist and many other churches in the area hold “trunk or treat” or fall festival events on the days leading up to Halloween.

“We do it mostly as a family thing. Since we are in the middle of a neighborhood, our parking lot is a safe and easy place for the kids to trick or treat,” Kieve said, noting his church will hold its trunk or treat event on the evening of Oct. 31.

“We do it as a fun thing. But we certainly don’t want to have anything that will frighten the kids or anything,” Kieve added. “It’s important to acknowledge there is sin and evil in the world, but we don’t necessarily personify it all on one night.”

Lowery said he typically takes an opportunity each Halloween to provide a message to the younger members of the congregation.

“What I tell young people is that we should celebrate the fact that we don’t have to be afraid of things the in dark, because the Lord is with us always,” Lowery said.