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Louisville churches turn to outdoor services, other creative ways to hold services

Christ Church United Methodist in St. Matthews turned to their parking lots to hold two outdoor services this year.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Flurries Thursday night didn't stop some from braving the below-freezing temperatures for Christmas Eve Mass outdoors. Churches in the area made preparations to hold services in creative ways, so the holiday could be celebrated safely. 

Christ Church United Methodist in St. Matthews turned to their parking lots to hold two outdoor services this year. 

"It can get as dark as it wants to get, it can get as cold as it wants to get," Leanne Hadley, a minister with the church said. "We thought rather than make it a Christmas that we missed, we would make it an unforgettable Christmas."

Normally seeing up to 2500 people for Christmas Eve, services this year were trimmed down to 15 minutes, taking place every half hour for three hours. 

"We knew it was really important to people who want to kind of be home for Christmas physically in our building, that it was just so important for them to be able to come together in some way," Eric Bryant, a senior pastor for Christ Church said. 

Candles were paired with sanitizer as congregants arrived at the services, and glowsticks were placed on the ground 10 feet apart to ensure safe social distancing, as families stood apart. 

"To come out in the cold, to bundle up, to be together, to light a candle, to sing together, I think it's going to be very emotional," Hadley said. 

The congregation also had the option to pass through the sanctuary in a one way line to receive communion. 

"We have individually packaged communion elements for our congregation. It has a little wafer on top and then the juice in the actual cup," Bryant said. 

Christ Church is also sharing a virtual service option online for those who feel more comfortable at home. 

"Even though our circumstances are so different this year, this is a year like no other, it's a Christmas like no other, but the message of Christmas remains the same," Bryant said. 

Christ Church United Methodist in St. Matthews typically never holds a Christmas Day Mass, but many other churches in the area who are holding services have either moved entirely virtual or are offering a social distanced options with tickets or reservations. 

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