Columbus Church Changes Christmas Service As COVID Cases Rise

Reverend Tim Athrens of the First Congregational Church said the church is hosting a “hybrid” Christmas service to keep people safe while celebrating the holidays.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio has taken an alarming new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ohio Department of Health reported the highest number of cases in a 24-hour period on Tuesday with 12,502 cases.

A few days before Christmas and the many gatherings that take place, this worries some.

10TV spoke with Reverend Tim Athrens, Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church in Columbus about the high numbers.

“You know, we’re all trying to sort this out one more time,” Reverend Athrens said.

He’s been keeping a close eye on the numbers lately, and the church has a plan in place during the pandemic.

“In 2019 the room was packed. In 2020 a recorded version of the service was presented via Livestream. Now we have a hybrid,” Reverend Athrens said.

This hybrid consists of an in-person and streaming service over Christmas. The church offers free, first come, first served ticketing service. Reverend Athrens said the shrine can normally hold just over 600 people, but to be sure they’re limiting it to less than 300. Masking is also required and there will be social distancing.

“We’ve all learned that we have to be flexible in the midst of this,” he said.

When it comes to larger venues, we checked the websites of several places like CAPA and PromoWest that operate more crowded venues.

These places have been requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for several months within 72 hours. According to its website, Nationwide Arena does not require immunization status, but it will change the guidelines if necessary.

The spirit of Christmas is in the air and Reverend Athrens will not let the joy be taken from him.

“We try to be thoughtful and protective of everyone’s health and safety, but also cheerful, absolutely joyful,” he said.

COVID-19 in Ohio: recent coverage

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