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COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Churches Moving Christmas Services Online-Only Or Limiting In-Person Attendance

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - With Christmas just three days away, many families are usually getting ready for traditions, like packing into churches to celebrate the holiday. This year that won't be possible with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Christian denominations will not be allowing people inside while others will allow only a limited amount but still encourage people to use their live streaming services.

The non-denominational The Bible Chapel in the South Hills has already started its Christmas services to prevent overcrowding.

Earlier this month, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell asked all congregations to not have any services in person until 2021.

"We have four different services and they are all packed full of people, but not this year," St. Paul's Episcopal Church Reverend Noah Evans said. "This year we are caring for one another by staying safe and staying separate by practicing social distancing."

St Paul's Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon will live stream its service and allow people to get communion in the parking lot or inside one family at a time.

"So it will give people a taste of what it will be like to be in church on Christmas Eve," Rev. Evans said.

Similarly, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Allison Park, there will be nothing inside.

"It's the best way to love someone -- is to want them to be well. And to want to get through this together," St. Paul's United Methodists Church Pastor Jeffrey Sterling said.

St. Paul's plans to have an outside service in the parking lot. They also plan to have an online Christmas special video for their congregation.

"We know that there are some folk that would like to come. We've decorated the whole yard and church up for a light-up night we had. So some may want to come," Pastor Sterling said.

While the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is live streaming everything it will allow a limited number of people inside churches for the holiday.

Bishop David Zubik is encouraging followers to take advantage of the live streaming services.

"Many people -- and rightly so -- are concerned about coming into an environment where there's a good number of people," he said over Zoom.

Bishop Zubik said parishes are having people register for masses on the individual parish websites. If you are not registered, you may not be allowed in.

"It's important to see the big picture. We've got to do what we've got to do to keep each other as safe as possible," he said.

In Gibsonia, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church will hold three drive-in services in the parking lot at 5, 7 and 8 on Christmas Eve evening.

KDKA will be airing several Christmas services on CBSN Pittsburgh between midnight and 9 a.m. Christmas Day.

Here is a full list:

  • Christ Episcopal Church
  • Cross Roads Presbyterian Community Church
  • First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Everyone Belongs
  • St. Thomas More Catholic Church
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