Christmas on Sunday encourages churches to get creative


     Take your pick: C&E Christian, Chreastian or C.E.O.
    According to the Urban Dictionary ( the definitions of the three are virtually interchangeable.
      “C&E Christian” and “Chreastian” refer to someone who shows up at church twice a year, Christmas and Easter, while “C.E.O.” is shorthand for Christmas and Easter Only.
     You get the picture.
      The irony: Most mainline churches do not normally have services on Christmas Day. Traditionally, multiple services are held on Christmas Eve while the sanctuary is quiet on Christmas itself, allowing families time to relax and celebrate at home.
      But the 2011 calendar has forced churches to break from the normal schedule.
      This year Dec. 25 falls on Sunday.
       Most churches in the North Georgia Conference are opting for multiple services on Christmas Eve and one service on Christmas Day, with no Sunday school classes or other events normally held on Sunday evening. Service times vary widely.
    In addition, many churches are encouraging people to “come as you are” on Christmas Day.  
      “We will be combining our three Sunday services into one on Christmas Day at 11 a.m.,” said Katy Hinman, associate pastor of Decatur First UMC. “We will hold it in our historic chapel, which was built in 1899.
    “This is be a great opportunity to bring all our people together at one time and encourage them to CAYA – come as you are.”
      The service will feature Christmas hymns blended in traditional and contemporary style. There will not be Sunday school classes or a nursery. “This will be a family service. We want everyone to bring their kids with them,” Hinman said.
     Allen Memorial UMC, in Oxford, will have one service at 11 a.m. Christmas Day and no Sunday school. “The begininng of the service will be a Christmas Carol sing-a-long,” said pastor Max Vincent. “People will be invited to call out their favorite carols and we will sing a verse. The children are invited to bring a special present they unwrapped that morning to share as part of the Children's sermon.”
       Lewis Memorial UMC, in Evans, will hold worship at 10:30 a.m. Christmas Day.  “We will have one combined service with lots of singing,” said pastor Eddie Bradford. “We have encouraged the children to bring one non-living gift they received that morning as we will have a special children's moment about the gift God gave to us so many years ago.”
    Snellville UMC will have a family worship celebration at 10:30 a.m. It is the only event scheduled for the day.
       “We are encouraging folks to come dressed casually, children in jammies, if they wish,” said pastor Jim Cantrell. “Our hope is to have Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, coffee and other goodies to enjoy. The service will be different in that it will focus on why the birth of Christ is the most wonderful gift of all in a casual, relaxed environment. We will sing lots of carols, involve persons of all ages to participate in story telling about family Christmas traditions and make a concerted effort to keep families all together in one place.”
      Bold Spring UMC in Carnesville will have one service at 11 a.m. Christmas Day.  “We are going to have a Christmas Sing and Sermon,” said pastor Jordan Thrasher. “Basically, a time where people can call out and we will sing everyone’s favorite Christmas hymns, and then there will be a sermon, followed by more singing.”
     At Faith UMC in Smyrna, “We will have our 11 a.m. service and it is to be filled with all our Christmas Carols,” said pastor Joey Hatchell. “Nothing fancy, just a good hour of worship on the Lord’s birthday.”
     Thomson First UMC will have one service at 10:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, featuring a sermon, Holy Communion, and plenty of music. “I thought it was awful that many churches, a few years ago, cancelled Sunday morning worship,” said pastor John Barnes. “If fewer people come, that’s okay. We don’t cancel worship on Fourth of July or Labor Day because of low attendance. For us this will be a wonderful Sunday to talk about the incarnation!”
      Trion UMC will have a combined service at 10:30 a.m. with a special message for the holiday.  “I will do ‘Christmas in West Texas’ for the sermon, based on a John Henry Faulk story,” said pastor Rob Pierce.
      Oak Grove UMC in Decatur will have one service at 10:30 a.m. on Christmas Day. “We will use the day as a great day of celebration, including much carol singing,” said pastor GlennEthridge.
      City on a Hill UMC, in Woodstock, will be holding its Christmas service at 5 p.m. to allow families to enjoy the morning together. The service will feature
testimonies and Holy Communion.
   Unlike most other churches in the conference, Bremen First UMC is maintaining its normal Sunday morning schedule on Christmas Day. There will be a contemporary service at 9 a.m., Sunday school at 10 a.m. and traditional worship at 11 a.m. The normal evening services have been canceled.