Christmas Eve service is a worship service observed by Christians all over the world before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, in the year 2020, the COVID-19 restrictions have stifled the ambiance and euphoria that accompany the revered Christian Service in some parts of the world.
Two Mega churches in New Mexico are facing $10,000 fines for holding largely unmasked Christmas Eve services in violation of the State’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Governor Grisham of New Mexico enacted restrictions on Dec. 15th that limit church gatherings in “red counties” to 25% capacity and also requiring masks.
The state’s Public Health Department levied a $10,000 fine each against Legacy Church and Calvary Church in Albuquerque — $5,000 for violating the capacity limit and $5,000 for violating the mask mandate.
The fines came after the two Churches posted video and photos on social media of the services that revealed many worshiping without masks.
The governor’s spokesperson frowned at both churches and their pastors for violating the public health order and accused them of endangering lives with “illegal and selfish gatherings.”
Legacy Church issued a statement saying, “We have taken the pandemic seriously from the start, and have prudent measures in place. But when governments exceed their constitutional authority and contradict what we are called on by God to do, we answer first to His authority.”
Legacy described their services as “peaceful protests,” and said:
It’s tragic that what we do for thousands of shut-ins, those in despair, and kids who go without meals gets no state notice, but fixation on one service can net us large fines. The state should fold its losing hand against Churches as Colorado has, focus on the truly vulnerable, and recognize what the US Supreme Court has recently said about Churches because we must continue to do what we are called to.
Calvary Church also released a statement:
“Calvary Church experienced significant attendance at our in-person Christmas Eve services on one of the most celebrated and sacred days of our Christian faith. In response to this outpouring, Calvary Church chose not to break fellowship with any worshiper by requiring them to leave the gathering of their church family. Instead, we continued to urge and provide opportunity for our congregants to maintain safe social distance, wear face coverings, and properly sanitize. As for all our services, church seating was staggered in the main auditoriums with every other row cordoned off so people were kept from sitting directly behind or in front of anyone outside their immediate family.
Both churches have five days to contest the state fines.
Since early on in the pandemic health experts have warned against group choral singing as the droplets and aerosols generated while singing have been cited for their high infection risk.