A variety of denominations, including Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal and Anglican, will celebrate All Saints Day. The religious celebration, which falls each year on Nov. 1, recognizes saints, as the name might suggest. But the day carries one main difference for Catholics and Protestants. Because the Catholic church believes in purgatory, or an in-between place for those whose souls are impure, it recognizes on All Saints Day only those who are known to be in heaven.
“All Saints Day is a Sunday that we set aside, and in particular here at Central, we remember all of our loved ones that have passed away for the last year,” said Meg Jiunnies, director of spiritual gifts and congregational care at Central United Methodist Church in downtown Florence.
Jiunnies and Rev. Josh Blackwelder, the church’s associate pastor, said in their faith, saints are Christians of every time and place.
“What we’re thinking of are people that we emulate because of their faith,” Jiunnies said.
Deacon Regi Armstrong of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church agreed with Jiunnies to an extent, saying that the Catholic church holds saints in high honor and believes them worthy of emulation.
“As Saint Paul said, ‘Be imitators of me like I am of Christ,’” Armstrong said.
Protestants believe that if a person dies a faithful Christian , then they will definitely get into h eaven, Armstrong said.
To recognize all of those who have passed and not just those in heaven, Catholics then celebrate All Souls Day on Nov. 2.
“Protestants don’t recognize the teaching on purgatory, so for them to have an All Souls Day and an All Saints Day doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Armstrong said.
For Sunday’s All Saints Day service, Jiunnies said, members of Central’s congregation are invited to call out the names of those who have passed. A bell will be rung for each name called.
“It’s a very emotional time for our church family,” Jiunnies said. “We’re talking about not only members of families that have passed on but also members of our church family.”
While the Methodist church certainly recognizes the early apostles, it does not worship or pray to them, she said.
The Catholic church, on the other hand, does pray to saints because of their closeness to God, Armstrong said.
“They’re closer to God than we are, and they can actually pray for us,” he said. “They can pray to Jesus just like we can pray to Jesus. They happen o be closer.”
Because All Saints Day falls on a Sunday this year, St. Anthony’s services will be fairly traditional, although the clergy will be wearing white and the readings will be on All Saints Day.
The next day, St. Anthony’s will have a service similar to Central’s for All Souls Day, where all who have died will be honored, “regardless of where they are,” Armstrong said.