Gone too soon: Interfaith memorial honors homeless people who passed this year

At the 29th National Interfaith Homeless Memorial Service, people of many faiths, and people who have no faith at all, honored the lives and mourned the deaths of those who left this world behind while enduring hardships most of us can only attempt to understand. The service took place inside Church on the Hill on Friday, Dec. 21, where attendees  paid tribute to people without homes who died this past year.

Church on the Hill sits in the shadow of the Massachusetts State House. Inside tha the building where important decisions are made. some of which can be a matter of life and death for homeless people..

Prayer, music, and a candle lighting ceremony, accompanied by the reading of as many names as could be collected, honored the people we lost this year.

Rev. Colin Leitch welcomed the crowd, and spoke about the equality of each human being.

“We gather in the sure knowledge that where God is concerned, each death is of absolute equal importance,” Leitch said.  

This equality is often dismissed or overlooked in a world where people are divided in the eyes of many in terms of the haves and the have nots, a deceptively brutal phrase that to some people is indicative of who matters and who does not.

“We live in a time of unprecedented greed, and consumption, and avarice,” Leitch continued. Despite the unfortunate state of the world, Leitch encouraged the crowd to carry on. “There is always hope,” he said.

Russ, who designed the cover art for the service’s program, also addressed the challenges presented by a world in which greed is praised and rephrased as ambition.

“We live in a frightening time where what’s important isn’t important at all,” Russ said.  

Spare Change News lost one of its vendors in 2018. Fred Boykin became homeless at age 30 when the house his mother left him upon her death burned to the ground. He remained homeless until his untimely demise from cancer this year. In an interview with Spare Change News contributor Andrew Warburton, Fred said he saw the world in terms of circles.

“We live in circles…We live on a sphere—the earth—and we’re born in the womb, which is a [kind of] circle. We travel in a circle and we go up and down like on a merry-go-round. Even when you’re playing baseball, you’re in a circle.”


Fred applied this outlook ot death, as well.. “When you die, you go into a different circle, a circle of peace,” he said.

The Church on the HIll Choir performed Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” In one verse, Dylan poses a timeless question: “How many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?”

Top