Christmas Eve A Combination of Live and Online Services

Editor’s Note: To add your church services to this list, email editor@spiritofabilene.com

By LORETTA FULTON

Expect a sense of deja vu Thursday evening when live streamed and/or televised Christmas Eve services will replace in-person worship at many Abilene churches.

When many in-person Easter Sunday services were canceled due to COVID-19, most assumed things would be back to normal by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and many larger churches are choosing to present services online only, just like on Easter Sunday. There are a few exceptions.

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest will have two services, at 4 and 6 p.m., in the courtyard. A third service, at 10 p.m., will be online only.

Highland Church of Christ is presenting Christmas Eve “on demand,” with the service available at anytime Thursday on YouTube. 

First Baptist Church is having a drive-in service at 6 p.m., with guests parking in the south parking lot and tuning into the service on their car radio.

A few churches are hosting a downsized version of the traditional in-person Christmas Eve service. The usual dramatic re-enactment of the Christmas story will not be held at Zion Lutheran Church this year, Pastor Clyde Kieschnick said, but in-person worship will be held.

“We will worship in person with a shorter service that does not include the drama,” Kieschnick wrote in an email, “but does include the familiar Christmas scripture readings and a short Christmas Eve message.”

Bishop Michael Sis of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, said he is not issuing directives about in-person worship, but has told his priests they may need to schedule more Masses or earlier Masses to accommodate people while observing social distancing protocols.

“They need to utilize our standard liturgical protocols for liturgies during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sis wrote in an email.

SOUTHERN HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST
Format: Online only
Time: Available Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. 
Access: YouTube or sohillschurch.org/live
Details: Congregational singing, selected scripture readings, special candlelight experience that people can participate in from home. All you need is a candle and lighter. 
Minister: Jarrod Robinson, minister of the word

HIGHLAND CHURCH OF CHRIST
Format: Online only
Time: On-demand available anytime Thursday
Access: YouTube.com/highlandabilene
Details: Highland won’t have in-person worship the rest of the year. 
Minister: Shane Hughes

FIRST CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN
Format: Virtual; service filmed Monday for viewing at 6 p.m. Thursda
Time: 6 p.m. 
Access: http://www.fcpc.net/online-worshipDetails: Candles and communion elements will be passed out at the church Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Service will include special musicMinister: Cliff Stewart

WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Format: Zoom service
Tiime: 6:30 p.m.
Access: Those who are interested in registering can email wpcabilene@gmail.com. 
Minister: Chris Turner

PIONEER DRIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
Format: In-person and online
Time: 5 and 7 p.m. (5 p.m. in-person is full)
Access: pioneerdrive.tv or Facebook
Details: In-person is by registration only, www.pioneerdrive.org
Minister: John Whitten

WYLIE BAPTIST CHURCH
Format: Online only
Time: 5 p.m.
Access: Facebook Live
Details: Candlelight service
Minister: Mike Harkrider

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Format: Drive-in service in parking long; live stream on Facebook
Time: 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Access: For the 6 p.m. service, guests will park in the south parking lot on North First Street at Hickory Street or access the service on the First Baptist Church Facebook page.
Details: For the in-person service, guests will park their vehicle and listen to the service on an FM radio station. Service will include carols, the Christmas story, children’s sermon, and communion, ending with Silent Night.
11 p.m. service will be pre-recorded and televised on KRBC. A music program beginning at 10:35 p.m. will be televised on KRBC.
Minister: Phil Christopher

ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI CATHOLIC CHURCH
Format: In-person, 2525 Westview Drive
Time: 5 p.m. The Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord; 11:30 p.m. Christmas Carols; 12 a.m. Midnight Mass
Christmas Day: 12:10 p.m. Mass

HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH
Format: In-person, 5410 Buffalo Gap Road
Time: 5:30, 8, midnight
Access: In-person or Facebook
Details: Mask required
Minister: Msgr Frederick Nawarskas

SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH
Format: In-person, 837 Jeanette St.
Time: 6 p.m. The Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord; 9 p.m. Mass for Intention; 12 a.m. Midnight Mass
Minister: Rev. Fr. Albert Ezeanya 

ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH
Format: In-person, 826 Cottonwood
Time: 9 p.m.
Details:  stfrancisabilene@gmail.comMinister: Rev. Fr. Isidore Ochiabuto

ALDERSGATE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Format: Live online on YouTube and Facebook
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Access: aldersgateabilene.org/watch 
Minister: Dustin Wilhite

ST. PAUL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Format: Facebook and website livestream only
Time: 6 p.m.
Televised 10 p.m. on kTXSDetails: No in-person worship
Minister: Steve Patterson

WYLIE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Format: Online
Time: 6 p.m.
Access: YouTube or www.wyliemethodist.com Click on “Online Christmas Eve Service”
Minister: Jeff Hatcher

ELMWOOD WEST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Format: In-person and live streamed
Time: 5 p.m.
Access: In-person, 1302 S. Pioneer Drive; live stream Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ewumc/live/
Details: Childcare available
Minister: Gene McPeak

OUR SAVIOR LUTHERAN CHURCH
Format: In-person, 4933 S. Seventh St., and live streamed
Time: 6 p.m.
Access: Live streamed on Facebook, Our Savior Abilene
Details: Masks are not required. Registration is not required.
Minister: LaVerne A. Janssen

EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY REST
Format: Two Christmas Eve services in the courtyard; one virtual service
Time: 4 and 6 p.m. Lessons and Carols in the courtyard with Key City Brass 10 p.m.: Holy Eucharist online only, with hymns, sermon, and candle lighting in the nave
CHRISTMAS DAY: 10 a.m. in-person Holy Eucharist with hymns and sermon in the courtyard
1 p.m.: Swahili worship in the courtyard
Details: Masks or face coverings are required for in-person services. Participants should register for in-person worship at heavenlyrestabilene.org/registration. Worshipers are encouraged to bring their own chairs for services in the courtyard. 
Access: Online services will be streamed on the Heavenly Rest Facebook page (@heavenlyrestabilene) or at heavenlyrestabilene.org/live
Minister: David Romanik, rector

GRACE LUTHERAN AND ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL CHURCHES
Format: In-person and Facebook Live joint service of Grace Lutheran and St. Mark’s Episcopal churches
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Ministers: Mary Glover, rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and Leslie Dunlap, pastor of Grace Lutheran. Glover will preach Christmas Eve sermon.
Access: In-person, Grace Lutheran Church, 1202 S. Pioneer Drive; online, Grace Lutheran Church Facebook page; Service will be recorded and added to YouTube channel
Details: Holy Eucharist and candlelight
Dec. 27: The Christmas Eve service will be featured again, beginning at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, on the Grace Lutheran Church Facebook page

Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene

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