WESTLAKE, Ohio — Westlake’s United Methodist Church’s Reverend Mollie Gordon Brown said they pride themselves on being a place that welcomes and includes all.
“We want we want to meet people where they are because we know that people worship in different ways,” she said.
Worshipping in different ways is exactly what 2020 has forced the church to do. Typically, on Christmas Eve about 900 people would attend various services throughout the day.
This year, there are 2 opportunities for drive-in worship with communion in the church parking lot.
“People will bring their own communion elements because they know what is safe in their family to have to partake,” said Brown.
The service is equipped with music, sermon and scripture.
“We sing Silent Night and light candles every year. Well, how do you do it in a pandemic? For the drive-in services, we're giving them battery-operated candles as they enter the parking lot and we will shine the light of Christ in a different way,” she said.
Laurie Forbush, the lay leader at Westlake United Methodist, said it’s important to have an opportunity to come together while safely staying apart.
“Just to be able to see people, even if you're looking across a car window at someone else and wave at them, it means a lot to a lot of people, especially now a lot of people are struggling,” she said.
The church is also offering two other live-streamed services.
“Those familiar ways of worship, but in a little bit of a different way this year,” said Brown.
The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is also adjusting.
“Our parishes have reduced the attendance capacity and many parishes aren't going to be able to accommodate usual Christmas crowds,” said Father Don Oleksiak.
But they’re encouraging people to worship at home. The diocese offering live-streamed mass online, on the TV, and through the radio.
“It's going to be a very different Christmas, obviously, a very different than it ever has been. But, hopefully, it will be a memory behind us soon,” said Father Oleksiak.
While there’s no doubt it’s a holiday like never before, Rev. Brown said that’s exactly why people need the Christmas spirit and to celebrate the reason for the season.
“This is a message that's timeless and I think, especially now, in this pandemic, it's a message that people need to hear and I think we want to hear that message of love and hope,” she said.