COVID surge impacting Christmas plans at Northeast Ohio churches

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The surge in COVID-19 cases is impacting Christmas plans at churches across Northeast Ohio.

Almost all houses of worship are now offering some form of livestreaming service and encouraging people to follow safety protocols.

“We thought we were on the move to putting this behind us and, of course, we had to adjust expectations, change our lives and plans around this medical situation,” said Fr. Bill O’Connell at the historic St. Augustine Church in Tremont. 

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has asked those who are unvaccinated or at risk to continue wearing a facial covering.

Anyone who is feeling unwell, running a temperature or has been exposed to a COVID-positive person is asked to stay home and watch mass via live streaming.

“It amazes me we had to use a crisis to open our eyes to what was available out there in terms of new technology,” said Fr. O’Donnell. “You know we have people all over the world who can tap into what we’re celebrating, not only here, but all the churches and that’s inspiring. That unites us as one people.”

Other prominent churches promoting livestream services include Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Bay Village Presbyterian and The Word Church, which is also holding a Christmas Special at noon on FOX 8. 

People are also encouraged to donate to local ministries where the need is greater than ever, says Fr. O’Donnell, including at the St. Augustine Hunger Center which feeds tens of thousands every holiday.

“People can still give donations to help support the feeding ministry of Catholic Charities. They will be taking meals out to people who cannot come out to us on Christmas day,” said Fr. O’Donnell, “So we are seeking in so many ways to carry on even though it requires some adjustment.”

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