22 December 2021

Come all ye faithful: where Canberrans can gather for worship on Christmas Day

| James Coleman
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Christmas nativity scene

There are plenty of churches open in Canberra to celebrate Christmas. Photo: North Canberra Nativity Festival.

Believe it or not, there is more to Christmas than an old bearded man in a red suit clambering down chimneys and giving out toys. The exact date is unknown, but the fourth-century Christian church chose 25 December as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Ever since then, Christmas Day has formed an integral part of the church calendar, with congregations gathering for worship across the world. Even many who don’t normally attend church make the time to attend a Christmas mass or service.

Here in the ACT, almost all congregations are back to gathering in person after a tricky time juggling COVID-19 restrictions, while many are also continuing to livestream their services.

Density limits remain in place and checking in via the Check-In CBR app is mandatory where a QR-code is provided. Face masks are required but there is no requirement to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend.

Singing is also permitted.

For details about what is happening for Christmas Day at your local church, your safest bet is to visit their website. There is also information from the central offices of most major Christian denominations, and information is also available online.

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

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some parishes require a booking to attend Christmas Mass.

Families can sit together, but there is no touching at the sign of peace, and Holy Communion is received under the species of bread only. Collection has been reinstated.

People sitting outside St John's Anglican Church Canberra

St John’s Anglican Church Canberra holding its Christmas services outside. Photo: St John’s Anglican Church.

St Christopher’s Cathedral in Forrest will hold Christmas Eve Mass at 6 pm and 8 pm, with Christmas Carols commencing at 11:15 pm, and Mass again at midnight, and on Christmas Day at 8 am, 9:30 am, 11 am and 5 pm.

For information on services at the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, visit their website here.

St Paul’s Church in Manuka encourages people to register online to attend a Christmas service this year. On Christmas Eve, a Family Carols and Liturgy service commences at 5 pm followed by Mass at 11 pm. On Christmas Day, Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9:30 am.

St John’s Anglican Church at Reid is holding all of its Christmas services outside so as many people as possible can attend and participate in carol singing while practising social distancing.

At 6 pm on Christmas Eve, there will be community carol singing where you can bring along a picnic basket, blankets and chairs. That will be followed by a Eucharist and Holy Communion. On Christmas Day, the church will hold its Eucharist and Holy Communion at 9 am (the wet weather venue will be the parish hall).

Presbyterian churches in Canberra include congregations in Forrest, Tuggeranong, Belconnen and Weston Creek. St Andrew’s Canberra in Forrest is opening its church every night between now and Christmas, where people can see their life-size nativity scene and ring the bells for Christmas.

Presbyterian Church of Saint Andrew in Forrest

Presbyterian Church of Saint Andrew, Forrest. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Similar to Presbyterian, the Reformed Church of Canberra in Rivett is holding a Christmas Day service from 9:30 am.

The Canberra Region Presbytery of the Uniting Church includes 54 congregations. You can find a church and read more about their current COVID-19 restrictions here.

The Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest is holding midnight carols on Christmas Eve from 11 pm, and Christmas Day worship at 9:30 am. Both services include Holy Communion.

Baptist churches can be found in North Canberra at Dickson, Belconnen and Gungahlin, and 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, with Holy Communion at 9:30 am.

On Christmas Day, the Orthodox Church is holding its Holy Christmas Liturgy from 8 am to 11 am.

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