New Bethany Ministries to Host Annual Luminaria Night on Dec. 12

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Glowing, candle-lit bags will line Lehigh Valley streets on Saturday, Dec. 12 as part of Bethlehem-based New Bethany Ministries’ (NBM) annual Luminaria Night.

The tradition was begun 23 years ago by a group of neighbors on Johnston Drive in Bethlehem. In the two decades since, the fundraiser has grown in popularity, and it has recently become an official NBM event.

Funds raised by the event will benefit NBM’s mission of offering hope and support to people who experience extreme poverty, hunger and homelessness. In 2019, the event raised more than $100,000 in kit sales, surpassing over $1 million raised for NBM over the lifetime of the event.

“Luminaria Night is one of New Bethany’s most impactful events because it offers everyone an opportunity to get involved in some way. It represents the Lehigh Valley as one big community,” said Marc Rittle, Executive Director for NBM. “We hope in these stressful, unprecedented times, Luminaria Night will offer an opportunity for neighbors to come together for a shared cause and enjoy some safely distanced time together.”

Luminaria line the walkway leading up to Moravian College’s Comenius Hall in Bethlehem.

Those interested in Luminaria Night can check if their neighborhood has a block captain. Those living in an area without a block captain should consider becoming one.

There are approximately 16 block captains in the Saucon Valley area, according to Tina Hasselbusch, an organizer of the event and block captain for the Old Mill neighborhood in Lower Saucon Township.

“Luminaria Night is a great way to unite our community around a common goal,” Hasselbusch said. “The work New Bethany Ministries does every day to support the poor, hungry and homeless is more urgent now than ever. The pandemic has powerfully impacted the lives of so many, especially those who are suddenly experiencing unemployment or eviction.”

To get involved in Luminaria Night, participants must purchase Luminaria kits, each containing 10 candles, 10 white paper bags and 10 cups of sand. On the night of Dec. 12, participants are advised to place about a cup of sand in each bag, then place candles in each bag and light them.

NBM encourages participants to be conservation-minded and save their sand to be reused in future years. The full participant guide can be found on the New Bethany Ministries website.

In addition to ordering Luminaria kits online, the kits can be purchased at the following locations:

  • 1510 Valley Center Parkway, Ste. 180, Bethlehem, on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 3-6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center at 505 Main St., Bethlehem, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
  • The Luckenbach Mill store (located in Christmas in the Quarter, ticketed event) at 459 Old York Road, Bethlehem, from 2 to 8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Contributed photo

Holiday candles will line streets in many Lehigh Valley neighborhoods on Saturday, Dec. 12, as part of New Bethany Ministries’ annual Luminaria Night celebration. This year will mark the 23rd year of the fundraiser, which was started by a group of neighbors in Bethlehem. Pictured above: luminaria line a sidewalk in the 1200 block of Main Street in Bethlehem.

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