Outdoor Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Friday, December 24, 4:30 pm
On Watts Street facing the WSBC Sanctuary
Livestream available on the WSBC Facebook page
Dear Watts Streeters,
The church staff has had multiple conversations today with some of our medical folks and an epidemiologist at Duke with whom we are deeply grateful to have connected. With Omicron spreading quickly across the nation right as people are travelling and gathering for the holidays, we feel a responsibility to pull back for a time from gathering crowds in the sanctuary, especially when there is singing and candles involved.
For Christmas Eve, we are moving our worship gathering outdoors. We will not have our 4 pm and 6 pm indoor services but one outdoor service at 4:30 pm on the street outside the Watts Street sanctuary entrance. (This is similar to the wonderful outdoor concert we had a couple weeks ago. We are notifying our neighbors as that portion of Watts Street will be closed off for this service). This service will also be livestreamed. We’ll send a link along with the bulletin in an email tomorrow.
In our conversations we learned that the Omicron COVID variant has been shown to have 3 times as many symptomatic breakthroughs as Delta and is 5-8 times more contagious. Though many have hoped that this might be a milder strain, that may only be the case with those non-immunocompromised who have had their booster shots and even then the evidence in the US is not yet clear. We are in the beginning stages of this wave that we hope will only last in the ballpark of 30-40 days, but our local ER departments are already feeling the pinch. Though the timing is quite frankly terrible when it comes to the church calendar, our hope is before too long we’ll be back inside together. But singing and candle-lighting (and importantly blowing out the candles) are best done outdoors at this time.
We imagine this news leaves many of you disappointed. It certainly was not a decision we came to lightly and we are working with our own disappointment as well. Even so, we are deeply grateful for the opportunity still to be together and raise our voices and candles into the night sky in celebration. The weather looks like it won’t be too terribly cold, though we encourage you to bundle up to stay warm. The sun will be setting as we worship together.
A few other details for you and a few things we’ve learned we want to pass along:
- Reservations won’t be necessary for this service. O Come All Ye Faithful!
- Wear your masks and bring chairs if you can. Yes, we will still be masked outdoors. Omicron has been found to transmit outdoors where people are not masked.
- We will have some chairs available as we have in our other outdoor services.
- Booster shots are vitally important now more than ever. All adults 16 and up qualify for boosters. This is the best protection against Omicron.
- Tight fitting masks are also important. Cloth masks are not sufficient in these days. So that cute Christmas mask you wanted to wear? Put it over a surgical mask.
What does this mean going forward? Sunday morning, December 26, and Sunday morning, January 2, will be livestreamed with only worship leaders and A/V people present in the sanctuary. So enjoy the comfort of your home and plan to join us online for those services. We will reassess at that time as to what the plan for the rest of January will be.
For this week, dig out those festive scarves and coats and plan to join us as we celebrate the birth of the one for whom we do not have to dress up or make our lives seem perfect, but who in the midst of it all, comes to us.