PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria invited the community to a very special Christmas Eve service on Friday. Parishioners celebrated being back together for the holiday after having no service last year.
Attending Christmas Eve church service is an important tradition for many Christians, but it was one many people didn’t get to experience during last year’s surge of COVID-19 cases. This year, thanks to a year of COVID-19 vaccines, people are able to start coming back to the chapel again.
Drew and Allison Giles are two of the hundreds of people Grace Presbyterian Church welcomed back. Drew said it’s a great feeling to be in fellowship with others for the holiday again.
“It’s sunny and warm out there, so it’s a little different not being snowy. But otherwise, being here and being with family, it feels more like a normal Christmas than last year,” Drew Giles said.
Allison said it’s a part of the holiday season she and Drew had been missing out on.
“Jesus is the reason for the season, so, I mean, just being at Church is great to celebrate here, but, like, celebrating Christ’s birth and why he came, with family, that’s really what I love about it,” Allison Giles said.
Paul Utnage, the church’s executive pastor, said people were excited to come out for a special service this year, which included music, scripture readings, prayer, and a candlelit singing of Silent Night.
“Last year was a little rough for a lot of people because we just couldn’t be together, so this year we’re kind of making up for it,” Utnage said.
Utnage said worshipping with others allows people to live out their faith, something that they won’t be missing this Christmas.
“There’s something about being together,” Utnage said. “Even at six feet, or five feet, or two feet, wherever they happen to be by family, it really raises people’s spirits.”
Those who couldn’t attend Friday’s service can watch it on Grace Presbyterian Church’s website.