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Churches cancel Christmas services due to omicron concerns

Getty Images, Monashee Frantz

Churches across the country are canceling their Christmas masses as a surge of COVID-19 cases grips the nation, The Associated Press reports.

Among the well-known churches that have decided to nix their annual gatherings are the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.; Boston’s Old South Church; and the St. John the Divine, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

The Old South opted to make its Christmas Eve service virtual but plans to hold its Christmas Day service in-person if possible. Washington National Cathedral will hold all of its services in an online-only format until Jan. 9, and National City Christian Church in the Nation’s capital will also switch to remote worship through at least Jan. 16.

Rising cases due to the highly transmissible omicron variant have left church officials at a loss of how to let their parishioners adequately worship during the holiday season.

“It has been more of an experience of grief I think than last Christmas. We had slowly made our way back and made all these adjustments,” Rev. Amy Butler, interim senior minister at National City Christian Church, told The Washington Post.

She added, “We really do consider this a matter of faith and caring for our neighbors. And if we were going to have any integrity about COVID and loving our neighbors, this was the right thing to do.”

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith of the Washington National Cathedral echoed a similar sentiment, expressing a feeling of responsibility of keeping church-goers safe. 

“While I am disappointed not to be able to gather in person, this pandemic has already taught us how to join together as an online community,” Hollerith wrote in a statement, according to the Post. “As the world shifts around us, I believe we need to be responsible and responsive.
 
“It is better to pause now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and be filled with regret later.”
Tags Christmas COVID-19 Mass washington national cathedral

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