The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has area churches continuing to rely on social media, and that includes Christmas services.
Houston Pentecostal Church Pastor Mike McIntyre, complete with his guitar, will be live-streaming on the church’s Facebook page at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve, saying he’s been building up his online skills and adapting to serve his congregation.
“In normal times we would be gathering, but we can’t do that now,” said McIntyre of stringent public health orders put in place last month, and reinforced this month, which prohibit gatherings such as in-person church services.
“We are in such a different time. No one has seen anything like this in our lives. It’s so big. It’s all encompassing.”
“It’ll be me and my guitar,” said McIntyre of the Christmas Eve service he’ll be offering.
There will be a tradition Christmas message and several Christmas hymns.
“‘Silent Night, of course, and ‘O Holy Night’, the old favourites,” said McIntyre of what he has planned.
McIntyre said the congregation has retained its cohesiveness despite not being able engage in traditional activities.
“It’s been wonderful to see this in these strange times,” he said.
“And I can say that for the entire community. This community has just been wonderful and amazing in coming together when it needs to.”
The Houston Christian Reformed Church held two virtual Christmas services this past Sunday and is following those up with a Christmas Day service at 10 a.m. via live-streaming on its YouTube channel as well as a service New Year’s Eve.
“It’s a way for everyone to participate even if we cannot all come together,” said Pastor Charles Van Hoffen.
He’ll be conducting the services from the church’s sanctuary and will have a few other people present to provide music.
As with the Houston Pentecostal Church, Van Hoffen says his congregation has maintained its togetherness, supporting each other where possible, since the pandemic arrived in the spring.
“Generally people are dealing with it but at the same time there’s also been some sadness and disappointment, maybe a bit of questionning,” he added of restrictions placed on in-person gatherings such as church services and other church activities.
Van Hoffen said congregation members are wondering why public health orders prohibit church services while allowing restaurants and other places of business to remain open.
“God does call us together to worship,” he added.
The Houston Pentecostal Church can be found here, https://www.facebook.com/Houston-Pentecostal-Church-121263976397550, and the Houston Christian Reformed Church YouTube channel can be found by going to www.YouTube.com and typing Houston CRC in the search bar.