Updated: December 24, 2020 06:49 PM
Created: December 24, 2020 06:31 PM
Minnesota churches are getting creative, offering Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services that look very different this year, due to the pandemic.
Under the Governor's current executive order, churches can be open at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 250 people inside at a time.
While some churches are having smaller in-person holiday services, others are going entirely virtual on what would normally be one of their busiest days of the year.
"This is a really unique experience," said Kent Lee, senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine. "We're all wrestling through these scenarios and situations to keep everyone safe."
Christ Lutheran Church live-streamed four Christmas Eve services via Zoom, asking people to worship with them from home. The Zoom services reached hundreds of people. You can find links to watch those services here.
"That old church saying of church is people not a building has been the number one thing that we've held to throughout these nine months," Lee said.
Next door, the Church of St. Timothy decided to host both online and in-person Christmas Eve liturgies.
"Because we have such a spacious sanctuary, we're able to still offer in-person worship with a limited number, with registrations and precautions like masks," said Rhonda Miska with the Church of St. Timothy.
Miska said the church adapted to follow safety protocols associated with the pandemic. They had families register in advance for a limited number of seats that were spaced throughout the sanctuary, asked people to sanitize their hands and not sing. They also decided not to have a full choir singing hymns and carols, opting instead to have a bell choir and single cantor.
The Church of St. Timothy hosted a virtual kids Christmas pageant Thursday as well.
They are planning a parking lot mass for Christmas Day, where people can have the Eucharist brought to their cars.
You can learn more about the Church of St. Timothy liturgies here.
"Regardless of what level of precaution people feel comfortable with, they have choices," Miska said. "We're social creatures. We're made for relationship with God and with one another, so churches can play a really important role in providing opportunities for people to stay connected."
She hopes the message of hope reaches Minnesotans during this difficult year.
"There's an invitation to remember this year at Christmas that God became human. God entered into the messiness and vulnerability that we're feeling now and we're not alone in these challenges," Miska said.
5 EYEWITNESS News found churches across Minnesota honoring Christmas Eve in their own special ways. Woodbury Lutheran Church decided to donate $25,000 dollars of its holiday offering to help people burdened with medical bills. You can learn more here.
Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company