Church leaders told News On 6 that Christmas Eve is one of their most attended services of the year, but the pandemic might impact that.
Local churches have already begun adapting their Christmas Week services across Tulsa to safely share what they believe is the reason for the season.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church offered a narrated drive-thru nativity experience on Sunday with eight separate stations.
Pastor Deron Spoo with Tulsa’s First Baptist Church said he is prioritizing his church family’s well-being.
“In years past, Christmas Eve has been one of our best services of the year. One of our best attended services of the year, and to cram that many people into a room where it's standing room only, I want to be very cautious of that,” Spoo said.
“I take safety and security very seriously for our church family, so typically, we would have two large services with lots of people crammed in the room. I thought, this year, it would probably not be the wisest course of action to do that.”
Spoo said the reason for celebrating Christmas remains the same.
"While the world has changed so much, there's a few things that haven't changed,” Spoo said. “What hasn't changed is that God loves humanity."
Spoo said they're offering three 30-minute drive-thru services on Christmas Eve.
“About 30 minutes in the car with my kids was about all I could take, so that seemed to be about the right length,” Spoo said. “So, from beginning to end, pull in, have a wonderful service.”
The parking lot at Tulsa First Baptist Church fits about 300 cars. Spoo hopes to see several spots filled.
"If we just reconnect with a couple of families and remind them of the love of God, that's a success in my book,” Spoo said.
Spoo said they have a whole block of parking where people can pull up, turn on their radio and watch what's happening on the balcony from the warmth and safety of their car.
“I'm encouraging our parents to make a memory,” Spoo said. “So, for a drive-in service, what do you do? You can make hot chocolate. You can make cookies."
Father Vince Fernandez of the Church of St. Mary in Tulsa said they've had to scale back this year.
Fernandez said they've adopted a reservation system with overflow in the gym.
"My one prayer would be just that everyone who comes and celebrates Christmas would be able to celebrate as full as they can but also celebrate in a safe and comfortable way,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez told News On 6 the church won’t have a traditional children’s service this year, but he still encourages families to discuss the nativity scene with their children.
"Just imagine, ‘What would that scene be like? You know, what does the manger look like? What does Mary look like? What does Joseph look like? What does it look like: The shepherds and the three kings?’” Fernandez said. “I know for kids, you know it's fun to ask them like, ‘OK, like what animals are in the manger, right? And you know what's happening when they see Jesus, right? Everyone is kneeling and there's this beautiful image.’ There's also just this great tradition of having a nativity scene."
The Church of St. Mary will offer 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. services on Christmas Eve. It will also host a 9 a.m. service on Christmas Day.
Like a lot of meetings this year, North Peoria Church of Christ Dr. Warren Blakney said the church is offering services online.
"This is so different and so we're hopeful that 2021 is going to be the time when we can do those things that we usually do,” Dr. Blakney said.
Dr. Blakney said you can get your fellowship fix over the holidays by bringing food to the food bank. Dr. Blakney told News On 6 the pandemic is an opportunity to display what Christianity is all about.
"I think it'll give us a great holiday in the midst of a pandemic because you'll go to bed that night realizing that it wasn't all about me or about the toy or about the food or my family,” Dr. Blakney said.