Churches have been fighting through the COVID-19 pandemic as hard as any type of organization. They have been fighting through gathering limits and trying to find ways to keep their members safe, while still providing a quality worship service.
With Christmas approaching, area churches are finding creative ways to still be able to hold Christmas Eve services, only in a less traditional manner.
Jon Buxton, pastor of Tunkhannock United Methodist Church, said that although he wishes everyone will still be able to get together for Christmas, he will be doing a virtual service to keep everyone safe.
“Our participation in the virtual services has been good, we have been getting around 300 views per week,” Buxton said. “We want to make Christmas services as accessible as possible for everyone, which is why the church is sticking with virtual services.”
Buxton said he will post his virtual service on Facebook and YouTube like he has been doing throughout the pandemic, and will also open the sanctuary of Tunkhannock United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve from 3 to 9 p.m. for families to come in and say prayers if they want to.
“Although it’s not a normal Christmas, we still want people to be able to see the church and the manger for a little normalcy,” Buxton added.
Leslie Bullock, pastor of the Nicholson and Tunkhannock Presbyterian Churches, will be joining Pastor John Whitehead of the Nicholson United Methodist Church for an ecumenical Drive-in style Eve of Christmas Eve service that will have the congregants and friends of the Presbyterian Church worshipping with the Methodists and others in the Nicholson community.
The ecumenical service on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. is in the parking lot of the Nicholson United Methodist Church at 64 State Street in Nicholson.
“It will be a candlelight service with scripture and carols, no one has to leave their cars, and everything will be able to be heard on an FM radio station,” Bullock said. “It’s going to be a beautiful Christmas service with our friends from the Methodist Church.”
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Christmas Mass schedule: Thursday, Dec. 24: 3 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 25: 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Tunkhannock Presbyterian Church’s virtual service will be posted on its Facebook page at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The service will be a pre-recorded Lesson of Scriptures and Carols to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth.
Bridgewater Baptist Church in Tunkhannock is splitting up its Christmas services over two days for social distancing purposes. Services will be held in the church on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 4:30 and 6 p.m., and on Christmas Eve at 3, 4:30, and 6 p.m.
Bridgewater Baptist is also holding an event outside on those two days which Pastor Rich Clark calls #forTunkhannockChristmas.
“The church loves everything about this community, the people, the town, the businesses,” Clark said. “By holding this little festival along with our Christmas Eve services, we wanted to give everyone a moment of normalcy.”
#forTunkhannockChristmas will feature a Christmas Tree and Santa’s sleigh set up in front of the church for families to take pictures. There will be ornament decorating for the kids, and hot chocolate and cookies will be for sale.
“We want to tell people that Jesus is the reason for the season,” Clark said. “It’s going to be a glorifying event for the community coming together to worship Jesus Christ and to celebrate his birth.”
Clark added that with all of the fear and anxiety that 2020 has caused, this event will be a “happy place.”
“We planned this event because our community needs help, it needs some joy,” Clark said. “Christmas is a time of celebration and us as followers of God want to be able to provide that celebration.”
#forTunkhannockChristmas will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 23, from 4-8 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 24, from 2:30-7 p.m., in the parking lot of Bridgewater Baptist Church at 2 Church Street in Tunkhannock.
Tunkhannock Assembly of God, located at 181 Bridge Street in Tunkhannock, will be holding their Christmas Eve service with socially distanced seating at 7 p.m. The short message and drama ‘We were Shepherds” will be presented for the crowd in attendance.
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tunkhannock will be holding Christmas masses at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and 7:30 and 11 a.m. on Christmas Day. Reservations are required to attend the masses, no exceptions. The masses will also be live-streamed on YouTube. There are no spots left for the 10 p.m. mass on Christmas Eve, but members will also be allowed to sit in their cars in the parking lot and listen to the mass through an FM radio station.