Given that the holiday falls on a Sunday this year, many churches are canceling Christmas services in anticipation of fewer attendees.
As the pandemic affects the way people worship, surveys by Lifeway Research show that only 84 percent of pastors plan to serve this year, down from 89 percent in 2016, the last time Christmas Day fell on a Sunday. has arrived. Only 60 percent of pastors plan to hold church services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Reallife Church in Macon, Georgia tweeted that they will be holding a Christmas Eve service, but not on Christmas morning.
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Pastor Josh Kamodi of New Covenant Christian Church posted a video on Twitter announcing that there will be no service on December 25. “Spend some time at home with your family,” he said.
Mecklenburg Community Church in Iowa holds Christmas Eve services in person, but Christmas Day services are online only.
“Families have many traditions on Christmas morning, and many pastors recognize that their membership is not as large compared to Christmas Eve and early-month services,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in the report. “However, churches that do not hold services on Christmas Day are excluded.”
The Catholic Church considers Sunday to be non-negotiable, including Christmas Day, even if it falls on a Sunday. In contrast, only 61 percent of non-denominational evangelical pastors said they would be ministry leaders this year, according to a Lifeway survey.
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Additionally, churches with 250 or more attendees are more likely to have Sunday services on Christmas Day than those with fewer than 50 attendees.
The First United Methodist Church in Florida has canceled services in Winter Park on the 25th and encouraged its congregation to “spend time with loved ones and celebrate Christ’s birthday at home,” according to a tweet.
The Walnut Grove Community of Christ in Independence, Ohio, said it would not be holding services on the 25th, but said on Twitter that the Mission Center Grandview Community of Christ will be available for those wishing to attend the Christmas Day service.
“Additionally, services are available at Beacon Heights, Colonial Hills and Woods Chapel Churches,” the tweet added. “For more information about specific times, contact that congregation.”
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According to the report, 85 percent of Protestant clergy this year plan to serve on New Year’s Day, the same as six years ago when the holiday fell on the last Sunday.
All Saints Congregational Church in Oklahoma will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and will instead hold a Christmas Eve service and “night of prayer” on January 1.
“Some churches get together on New Year’s Eve for fun and fellowship,” McConnell said. “Others have an evening or night service reflecting on the past year, with spiritually significant prayer times and observing fellowship.”
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Some pastors took to Twitter to express their opposition to churches canceling Christmas services, saying it was an insult to the reason for the season.
“Cancelling church to celebrate Christmas should not make sense to any believer,” wrote Nathaniel Jolly, pastor of Homer Reformed Baptist Church in Homer, Alaska.
“Isn’t it a tragic irony that some churches will be closed next Sunday because Christmas falls on that day?” David Cassidy, lead pastor of Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida, tweeted. “In some places, wizards may appear to pray and the doors may be locked. In an ironic twist to the tale, they find there is no room for them in the church.”