‘We can’t help but try’: Topeka churches adapt to pandemic so Christmas services can still happen

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – In a normal year, Christmas is a holiday when many gather to worship and celebrate the “reason for the season.”

But in 2020, it’s far from the typical holiday many look forward to.

“Everything about it feels different this year,” said Nathan Haverland, pastor at the Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Topeka. “We can’t help but at least try and celebrate Christmas.”

That they did. The Most Pure Heart of Mary blocked off half of the pews within the church, which were sanitized between each service, and required people to sign up for a spot at their services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

For people who did not want to attend in person, the church also provided a live stream and radio broadcast of the service. They even offered a drive-thru communion option.

“Hopefully [we] really do give everybody an opportunity, no matter where they are, to be able to attend church in some way this Christmas,” Haverland said.

However, Haverland said he saw more people attending their in-person services this holiday, some for the first time in months.

Topeka Bible Church also implemented similar precautions to their Christmas Eve services, splitting them up into six services over two days.

“We’ve marked off every other pew, got it like checkerboard style,” said Doug Will, executive pastor for the church. “We also implemented ticketing to make it safe and to make sure that we didn’t overbook.”

The church also offered a live stream of their service, which they said was important so they would still be able to provide the opportunity to worship for people who didn’t feel comfortable physically coming to the church.

However, for the people who did come in person, Will said it made for a very special Christmas. Something he said was especially important after this year.

“To be able to see our church family come together, say hi, even if it’s through masks, that’s okay,” Will said. “To see the joy in their eyes and their hearts, it means so much to us.”

Many of the safety precautions both churches have implemented are not just for Christmas, and will continue with their services moving forward.

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