Christmas church services will look different amidst pandemic
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Christmas church services will look different for many Americans across the U.S. this year, as COVID-19 restrictions limit and alter gatherings.
Services that are usually attended by hundreds will be capped down to prevent transmission of the virus, as well as following social distancing guidelines.
Some churches are requiring face coverings, parishioner sign-in sheets which aid in coronavirus tracing, and are providing hand sanitizing stations.
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St. Anne Catholic Parish in Wausau, Wisc. has created an assigned seating chart for their holiday mass.
Churches like Arkansas's Pleasant Valley Church of Christ have also been forced to color outside the lines, inviting visitors to join them for an outdoor candlelight service at the 18,000-seat University of Arkansas's War Memorial Stadium.
At the nearby North Little Rock First United Methodist, Christmas Eve services will be held in their parking lot and broadcast on an FM radio station.
Jonathan Vaughn, second from left, and his family, Addison, 5, left, Ann Marie, 7, second from right, and wife Alesha Vaughn pray during services in the Worship Center at Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland, Miss., Nov. 29, 2020. The church practices covid protocols by allowing families to sit spaced out from others, separating older and more vulnerable members in the worship hall and providing sanitizer and masks at the entrance. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
The Holy Cross Catholic Church in Lynchburg, Va. has canceled its midnight mass due to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's pandemic curfew.
Lynchburg's Peakland Baptist Church will prerecord their services.
In Bedford, the Main Street United Methodist Church was forced to cancel an 11 p.m. service so as to allow enough time to clean church surfaces.
That said, the church will accept just 60 of the usual 250 attendees.
The Messiah Community Church in Denver, CO., has asked its members to come out on their porches to light a candle and sing while the Highlands United Methodist Church will hold its service outside near their big Christmas tree.
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Colorado Springs' First Presbyterian will hold in-person services but divvy families and church-goers into six different rooms.
Singing — which is linked to a greater risk of virus spread — is not allowed at congregations in Pennsylvania. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will offer both masses via Zoom and a few in-person proceedings to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Parishioners and church leaders have increasingly turned online to spread their word, and Georgia's Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church will hold Christmas services mainly through video chat. Though, limitations and errors abound in a virtual church — especially among older congregants.
Facebook Live, Zoom, and FaceTime have become key tools for pastors looking to reach out to their members and worship has been radically changed for many during the course of the pandemic.
Only 9% of mainline Protestants who regularly attend services every month told the Pew Research Center they had worshipped in person during the pandemic. More than half reported they had participated solely online.
Governors and state leaders have bounced back and forth over restrictions on church services as COVID-19 cases continue to spike. Some churches have sued over capacity limits.
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The U.S. Supreme Court found capacity limits for places of worship in New York aren’t enforceable.
However, the pandemic may not be the only factor in distorting church customs this holiday season, as inclement weather sweeps much of the Midwest and East Coast.
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