21 December 2020

Come all ye faithful for Christmas church services, but check first for restrictions

| Michael Weaver
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St John's Anglican Church Canberra

St John’s Anglican Church Canberra will hold its Christmas services outside this year. Photo: Supplied.

Being thankful for our connections and community resilience will be a feature of Christmas church services around Canberra this year, with all churches having to adjust their services and find new ways to celebrate the season with an eye on COVID-19 restrictions.

For many congregations, this will involve moving services outside where possible and encouraging people to book before attending their preferred service. Other churches are live-streaming their Christmas services where possible.

Christmas tree dressing

Helping others will be the message this Christmas. Photo: File.

For details about services at your local church, especially in light of the changing COVID-19 situation in Sydney, visit your local church’s website. There’s also information from the central offices of most major Christian denominations.

For a full, up-to-date list of Catholic services across the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, visit their website here.

Current conditions for attending Mass in the ACT mean that most churches can accommodate around 200 people. If they have a QR code, churches can apply the two people per 2 square metre rule. If not, they must apply the two people per 4 square metre rule. A Mass Register is still required which will be kept for 30 days.

Families can sit together, but there is no touching at the sign of peace, Holy Communion is received under the species of bread only and only in the hand and collection plates are not passed around. Hand sanitiser must also be available. Practically speaking, this means that many Catholic parishes have asked families to book for services and will marshall any overflow into outside seating areas. Check with your church about these requirements.

At St Christopher’s Cathedral, Forrest, Masses will use outdoor space and numbers inside will be restricted. Christmas Eve Mass will be held at the Cathedral at 6:00 pm and midnight, and on Christmas Day at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.

In the Anglican Diocese of Canberra Goulburn, there are also restrictions in place at many churches. Information regarding services across the diocese is available on the diocesan website.

The Anglican Cathedral of St Paul’s at Manuka says it is essential to register in order to attend a Christmas liturgy this year. On Christmas Eve, the Cathedral’s Children and Family Liturgy will be held at 5:00 pm, followed by Holy Eucharist at 7.30 pm and 11:00 pm.

On Christmas Day, Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9.30 am. Their Christmas Eve Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Eucharist will be live-streamed and available for replay on the cathedral’s Youtube Channel. The Cathedral’s Service of Lessons and Carols will be available via the Youtube Channel from 22 December.

St John’s Anglican Church at Reid is holding all of its Christmas services outside so as many people as possible can attend, sing and practise social distancing.

At 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve, there will be community carol singing. Bring along a picnic basket, blankets and chairs. That will be followed by a Eucharist and Holy Communion at 7:00 pm. On Christmas Day, the church will hold its Eucharist and Holy Communion at 9:00 am. The wet weather venue will be the parish hall, where the capacity is 120.

Presbyterian churches in Canberra include congregations in Forrest, Belconnen and Weston Creek. St Andrew’s Forrest is opening the church every night between now and Christmas where people can see their life-size nativity and ring the bells for Christmas. Congregants need to be mindful of COVID-safe restrictions and should use the Check-in CBR app as they arrive and maintain physical distancing.

The Uniting Church’s Canberra Region Presbytery includes 54 congregations. You can find a church and read more about current COVID-19 restrictions here. The Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest is holding a family worship on Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm followed by a midnight worship with the Canberra Baptist Church at 11:15 pm. Registration is required due to COVID-19 restrictions. On Christmas Day, the church will hold its service from 9:30 am.

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Baptist Churches can be found in North Canberra at Dickson, Belconnen and Gungahlin, also at Queanbeyan, Hughes and Tuggeranong and are listed, along with many independent churches and website links here.

The Greek Orthodox Community Church at Kingston is holding its St Basil Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve from 7:15 am to 10:30 am. A Holy Communion is being held at 9:30 am. On Christmas Day, the Orthodox Church is holding its Holy Christmas Liturgy from 8:00 am to 11:00 am.

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A small detail, but St Paul’s Manuka is not a cathedral, only a parish church. The Anglican cathedral is in Goulburn.

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