The COVID pandemic hit the country hard. Businesses have shut down, people have lost their jobs, and kids have been forced to attend school from home. Now that Christmas is here, churches across the nation are trying to find a way for people to celebrate and worship.
Holy leaders have had to be very creative. Some churches have started waitlists, with limited seating and social distancing rules. Others are holding extra services so that more people can attend.
The Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., is the country’s largest Catholic church. There were 13,650 people there last Christmas. This year, the 3,000-seat building will only be allowed to hold 1,750 people, spread out over seven Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Some churches cannot even open. The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in D.C. has been closed since March. Christmas this year will be live-streamed, and Rev. William Lamar IV said the focus is charity and giving food and gifts for families in need.
In Pennsylvania, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church will worship virtually, but they will also be offering communion. Church members can pick up what they need to participate on Christmas Eve.
The holiday is a time for choirs and music, especially in church. So how are churches managing?
St. James Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has the tradition of playing Christmas music on a 135-year-old pipe organ along with 36 chorists, a trumpet, violin, baritone horn, cymbals, and timpani. The event is so popular that people arrive early to the church just to make sure they can get a seat. This year, the congregation will instead see the “quarantine quartets” perform. The groups of four will be practicing social distancing from the choir loft.
As Mr. Hines, the church’s music director, said, “It’s like the Whos are all gathered around, and the Grinch is looking down and he can’t figure out why they’re still singing.”