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Holiday services look different this Christmas as Beaumont churches hold on to tradition

"For eight, nine months it seems like we have been disjointed. And to be able to come together for an event, it means a whole lot to our church family."

BEAUMONT, Texas — From Rome to Beaumont, churches across the world are celebrating Christmas Eve Thursday. And for some, the services may have looked a little different.

While there's no denying that coronavirus has changed the way we do things, many churches across Southeast Texas are continuing to hold on to traditions this holiday season even if they are a bit different.

For the first time in a while, everything feels right for leaders at Praise Church in Beaumont.

"For eight, nine months it seems like we have been disjointed. And to be able to come together for an event, it means a whole lot to our church family," said Reggie Lloyd, Lead Pastor at Praise Church.

Lloyd said Christmas is a huge tradition for his congregation. It's why they decided to host a candle-lit service Thursday night. The Christmas Eve service had safety measures in place, such as recommending masks, sanitation stations, and designated seating for those at high risk of catching COVID-19.

"We tried to create some precautions for those who want to come but who may be concerned about coming,” Pastor Lloyd said.

Meanwhile, other churches have decided to take a different approach.

"But to keep people safe, out of harms way, we see the stewardship of human health as one that is imperative, so we will be doing it virtually," said Dr. John Adolph, senior pastor at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

Since March, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church has held services virtually. The senior pastor said the holiday is not an excuse to let your guard down.

"Be careful; be cautious. We are in a time in a season where the numbers of infected persons in our region are astronomical. So, treat it like there is a virus out there that has the potential of killing you," Pastor Adolph said.

At St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, COVID-19 is top of mind as they welcome dozens for Christmas mass.

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"Jesus came into a messy world. He was born into a manger in Bethlehem, and it was not easy, and it wasn't neat, and it wasn't clean. It's kind of how we're celebrating Christmas," Bishop David Toups, Diocese of Beaumont.

Leaders said they're operating at 50 percent capacity. Everyone who comes to worship must wear a mask and have their temperatures checked. 

Bishop Toups said their goal is to create a safe environment.

"We have to take precautions. We have to be prudent, and at the same time, we have to keep living. So, I just wanna encourage all of us to not live in fear cause fear stifles but to live in peace," Bishop Toups said.

In a year where peace has been hard to find, these men of faith are remaining hopeful that better days are ahead.

"Celebrate the lives of your loved ones who are near,” Pastor Adolph said. “Cherish the memories of those who are gone, and leave the rest to God. He's good at governing all of it."

For those looking to attend a Christmas church service at St. Anthony, they will have a midnight mass. Masks are required.

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