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COVID-19 prompts faith leaders to adjust holiday gatherings

Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 20:19:23-05

TULSA, Okla. — Some Green Country churches are adjusting their Christmas services this year. While some are modifying their in-person gatherings to increase social distancing, others are putting their faith in technology.

It is the first year the Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa is hosting two services on the “eve” of Christmas Eve. Church leaders have modified the annual holiday worship to accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We feel really good about the protocols we have in place,” executive pastor, Daniel Dennison said.

The church is closing off every-other-pew to increase social distancing while also encouraging parishioners to mask-up. To minimize the amount of people in each service, the church is also adding two extra services to space people out.

Trinity Episcopal Church has been holding its service online since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue it through the holiday. The church pre-recorded its mass and will post it on their facebook page Thursday. Father Lee Domenick said he and parishioners prefer to air on the side of caution.

“It is out of an abundance of love and abundance of caution,” Father Domenick said.

Meanwhile, First Baptist Church Tulsa is holding its three Christmas eve services outside.

“People are going to tune into FM 91.1 and from the 4th floor balcony above everybody, we’re going to have 30 minute worship services,” minister of worship, Jeff Elkin said.

Church On The Move said they too will hold their services online.

“In order for us to be as responsible as we can, for the safety of our people and the people of tulsa, we decided it would just be best if we created something really special that people could enjoy in their living room,” discipleship pastor, Lee Martin said.

Still, medical experts are urging caution to religious leaders amid the holiday season as they expect to see yet another spike in cases due to holiday gatherings.

“Family events at home and places of worship and those are places where the virus loves to spread,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU chief medical officer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the general considerations to help communities of faith discern how best to practice their beliefs while keeping their staff and congregations safe. To view their recommendations, CLICK HERE.

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