With Christmas fast approaching, many people are wondering what church will look like this holiday season. Will there be Christmas Eve service? Will it be streamed virtually? Churches in the surrounding areas are trying their best to make attending church accessible and safe to everyone this year.
The Oregon Health Authority has put specific guidelines in place in order to keep many people safe this year. The guidelines depend on the risk rating of the county you live in. Currently Clackamas County is rated at Extreme Risk.
Currently, churches in Clackamas County are allowed to hold 25% capacity or about 100 people, whichever one is smaller, inside with a minimum of six feet apart at all times. They also must have a physical distance monitor who will control the entrances and exits and make sure people are staying six feet apart at all times. Other recommendations include wearing masks and limiting food offerings as well as keeping services under one hour long.
The Community Church of Sandy is still holding an in-person Christmas Eve service this year. They are following all COVID-19 guidelines to make sure attendees are safe. For people that are not comfortable attending in-person service, they will have the Christmas Eve service live-streamed and recorded on their Facebook page.
“My hope is we can have a service that at one level is very similar to the services we have always had because I think this will be comforting to people. But at the same time, I want people to embrace the discomfort and the differences for these things point us to the mystery of God taking on humanity in the person of Jesus,” Community Church of Sandy Pastor Gregg Chastain said.
With many things changing this year, they have also decided to only host one service because of the lack of in-person attendance.
“This is the first Christmas Eve service we will have ever done via live-stream, and while some will choose to be at the church physically, many in our congregation have chosen to only participate online since March,” Chastain said.
Sandy Assembly of God has decided not to have a Christmas Eve service this year because they are not able to safely facilitate it at this time.
Even with all this planning, things can shut down again at a moment’s notice and close the church doors for the season if COVID-19 cases keep rising. In the end, if churches feel they can take the right and proper precautions to keep members safe from COVID-19, then people should feel free to attend.