Madison area churches focus on the reason for the season despite pandemic driven changes

Services take different forms on Christmas Day.
Pews are empty at the First United Methodist Church in Madison. All worship has moved online...
Pews are empty at the First United Methodist Church in Madison. All worship has moved online following the "Safer at Home" order.(NBC15)
Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 12:30 PM CST
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Christmas Day services in churches across the Madison area are taking different forms in the wake of the pandemic, some adopting new, virtual formats for the holiday, while others are modifying in-person celebrations.

Some churches, like Resurrection Lutheran, are modifying the way people meet in the sanctuary to celebrate the holiday. Measures like face coverings, and closed pew rows for social distancing is in place, while hand sanitizer stations fill the lobby to great visitors immediately upon entering.

“People were telling me how beautiful it was to gather as a community again,” said St. Maria Goretti’s father Scott Emerson. “A lot of our guests over Christmas told me it was the first time they had been to church in nine months.”

Churches with in-person services also offered virtual services, while others continued to offer exclusively virtual services for the holiday. For every church, the key throughout the pandemic, and especially during the holiday season, is adaptability, no matter the type of service held.

“My deepest gratitude is for the staff and the people of this church and the creative way they were able to adapt and go in a new way, a very creative way to keep things going,” said Sun Prairie United Methodist Church pastor Jenny Arneson.

The staff for every church strove to bring the focus of the services, not on what had changed, but what was the same for the holiday.

“Today is all about good news, great joy,” said Nathan Strutz, the pastor for Resurrection Lutheran Church. “Today a savior has been born to us, he is the messiah, the lord.”

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