Knoxville churches find ways to celebrate Christmas despite pandemic

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As the Christmas holiday nears, many East Tennesseans won’t be participating in their normal traditions, like in-person church services. 

With the cases of COVID-19 surging across the country, many clergy are working to make holiday church services safe for their congregations. 

Dr. Phil Nordstrom who is the pastor at Life Church Knoxville says he doesn’t want to pressure his people to come to church but wants to give them the option if they do. 

“Our auditorium for example has chairs, we’ve taken out a middle row to keep the distance,” said Nordstrom, “We also require everyone who works here or volunteers here to where masks.” 

Nordstrom says this year he has also stepped up his social media presence, posting sermons online. 

For Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor at Church Street United Methodist Church, online has been the only way she has been able to connect with her congregation. 

“We decided a while ago that we weren’t going to have in-person church services in 2020,” said Cantler. 

She says it’s not an easy decision but it has been for the best. 

“I commend those who have struggled and discerned over the past year about how to best love one another while still loving God,” said Cantler. 

Nordstrom says that his job isn’t to make medical decisions for his people. 

“If I want people to listen to me on spiritual issues, I better listen to their (doctors) medical advice,” said Nordstrom. 

Nordstrom and his family all contracted and recovered from the virus in July. He says it gave him a personal experience that helped him see how dangerous this virus could be. 

Both churches are offering messages online Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Both churches add they will continue online worship for at least the next few weeks. 

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