Unseasonal services: Church pastors around country get Christmas off


Church pastors around the country are usually preparing to host services for tomorrow – but this year many ministers get an unexpected day off.

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Congregations in Auckland and other parts of the country under the Covid-19 red setting will be celebrating Christmas online. Photo: 123RF

Many congretations in Auckland and other parts of the country under the Covid-19 red setting will be celebrating Christmas online, watching pre-recorded services.

Windsor Park Baptist is among the city’s larger churches and lead pastor Grant Harris said it’s been a few decades since he clocked off work before the 25th.

“I’ve been a pastor for 20 years and this will be the first Christmas Day that I won’t have to go out, some people have said don’t get used to it, so it will be strange for sure,” he said.

“It’ll be strange for our children as well, it’ll be the first Christmas that they won’t have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services – it’s been part of our family rhythm.”

Harris is looking forward to spending the day with family, including a newborn grandchild.

He said Covid-19 restrictions have left some feeling isolated, and it is important for churches to connect with their communities.

“All of us are thinking how do we make this Christmas special for people. Obviously we like to serve and it’s one of the key stories that we like to tell every year so how are we going to do that in an online space, how do we connect with people?

“We’re certainly encouraging people to connect with one another, particularly in homes as best as we can, so for people that might be isolated and alone we’re touching base with them and seeing what they’re up do, trying to build those connections with people.”

Harris said many churches are still figuring out how to include both the vaccinated and those who’ve chosen not to be immunised, under the traffic light system.

He heads a Covid-19 leadership group for Baptist churches and said many were planning to continue online services into the New Year.

“The majority of Baptist churches in Auckland that I’m aware of have actually made the decision generally to stay online through to the end of January for a number of different reasons, largely because it’s often the most difficult time to resource anyway and because we’ve been online for a number of months now it seems a little bit easier to stay in that place and just see what develops through January.”

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