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'It felt different': Impact of omicron variant felt at Charlotte churches on Christmas



CHARLOTTE, N.C. Local Charlotte News – While it’s impossible to cancel Christmas, COVID and the Omicron variant have certainly made the holiday feel different.

Local churches reported fewer attendees at Christmas Eve services and many families said their gatherings were smaller, too.

Rev. Carrie Veal, Minister of Children and Community Life at Myers Park Baptist Church, says her church saw about 300 attendees for their 6 p.m. Christmas Eve service. That may seem like a lot, but typically she says Myers Park Baptist has around 700 for that service.

“I think people have become very accustomed to worshipping at home. You can turn it on on YouTube and watch from the comfort of your sofa,” she said.

This year’s Christmas services marked their first since before the pandemic. Congregants were required to wear masks and use electronic candles rather than real ones. Communion was also given out in to-go bags.

“Having that personal opportunity to serve one another… we’re still missing that. And I don’t know how much longer we’ll have to keep missing that,” said Veal.

Some Charlotteans say Christmas at home felt a bit different this year as well.

“It felt different in terms of just how we were planning. The activities and get-togethers, we certainly were thinking about exposure and people had to get tested on some occasions,” said Webb Bostic.

Looking into a new year, it’s safe to say everyone is hoping to leave COVID in the past. But with the Omicron variant quickly spreading, it’s looking like we’ll have to take the virus with us into 2022.

“Our goal right now is to keep in-person worship, even if that means we have to scale back and not do some of our other programming,” said Veal.

Veal says she’s not sure what it would take for Myers Park Baptist Church to go completely virtual again, but she says she’ll know when to close the doors when it happens.

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