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People of faith modifying religious holiday celebrations amid pandemic

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Posted at 10:06 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 11:35:14-05

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, well kind of. Cities across the U.S. still may be trying to deck the halls, but a COVID-19 Christmas just looks and feels different.

For people of faith, a season full of worship and togetherness will be missed.

"They do feel isolated," said GlenRoy Watson, a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Watson’s congregation is made up of about 100 families.

"Normally at Christmas, we'd eat dinner and hang out and have a Christmas presentation," he said.

This year, religious celebrations need to be held at home, but he had an idea.

"I'm just hoping that everyone will learn a little bit more about each one another and just continue to feel united," Watson said.

He asked all families in his congregation to make a home video about their traditions or fond holiday memories to share with each other.

"It will be kind of like a mini movie," he said.

"For our Christmas tradition we read the story of Jesus Christ," congregation member Denise Cordero said as she sat with her young daughter by their Christmas tree and spoke to her iPhone camera.

For church piano player VerLynn Brink, playing Christmas hymns for everyone at her church is what she will miss most.

"This is one of my favorite memories of Christmas," she said as she recorded a video on her phone while playing her piano. "I had one of my favorite memories of Christmas in France.”

Now, she plays for an audience of one.

"It’ been a challenge, but I’ve tried to make a point every day to call somebody just so I feel connected," Brink said.

She said she is looking forward to the virtual viewing party in the days ahead.

At the McGuire home, they are trying to keep the magic of Christmas alive while still focusing on their faith.

"With this year being a little bit different, we have started some new traditions," Drew McGuire said.

The family said they miss meeting with their church family more than ever.

"This year, I feel like a lot of people have struggled with things and there hasn’t been a lot to feel hopeful about these days," McGuire said.

They hope the family video they’re making will help brighten others' days.

"Merry Christmas everyone," the family said in unison on their video recording.

As the videos came pouring in to GlenRoy Watson, it's his family’s turn to record their own video.

"We love celebrating and learning more about the nativity," Watson said as he smiled at his family.

So, even if most families' Christmas celebrations will take place on a living room couch instead of a church pew, the message is the same.

"We love our savior, Jesus Christ and we still care and support each other even if we can't all be together," Watson said.