SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Churches across KELOLAND are, once again, preparing to host Christmas Eve services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety remains a priority as the churches welcome many more worshippers than a typical Sunday.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church held services outdoors, in the parking lot, last winter because of the pandemic. The pastor is looking forward to holding Christmas Eve services indoors this year.
“We’re very excited to be together in-person and have candles instead of flashlights like we used in our cars last year,” Pastor Lori Hope of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church said.
St. Marks requires masks for all church functions, including Christmas Eve services.
“We have people in our congregation who are vulnerable. They have cancer. They’ve had transplants and we just want everyone to be safe and we’d rather be over-caution and find out we were wrong than to ever be a super-spreader,” Hope said.
Some churches are scheduling additional Christmas Eve services to protect worshippers by spreading them out throughout the course of the day.
“You’re not going to feel like you’re cramped next to people. There’s going to be space between seats if you want to enjoy that experience in a safe way,” Pastor Jeff Wheeler of Central Church said.
Central Church does not require masks, but has expanded its live streams for people who aren’t comfortable attending services in-person.
“So there are stay-at-home options for people if they don’t want to come and be here live. We also have an overflow room where we’re showing the service on video and in that room, there’s plenty of space for people to come and not be right next to each other,” Wheeler said.
Pastors are reminding their congregations that Christmas is still a time for hope and healing, in spite of uncertain times.
“Jesus comes in the middle of a pandemic, when we were all hoping it would be over by now, and that’s what we cling to,” Hope said.
“The whole Christmas message is one that gives people in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of struggles at holiday time, with addiction and family issues, that they can come and feel like there’s meaning in what they’re doing,” Wheeler said.
The choir will not be performing during St. Mark’s Christmas Eve services as another precaution.
KELOLAND TV will broadcast Central Church’s Christmas Eve service. See all of the services we’ll be airing on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.