To church or not to church on Christmas Day

Religion News Wilmington

My husband and I recently had the practical Christmas Day conversation – to attend or not to attend church.

Since Christmas Day falls on Sunday this year, we wondered how we would get all of the present unwrapping done before the morning service. (We know it’s not supposed to be all about the presents, but our kids are still working on understanding the holiday’s bigger picture.)

In the interest of fewer blood-curdling tantrums, I reasoned that we’re going to be up at 6 a.m. anyway because the little ones will be tugging on our eyelids as soon as the sun rises. So we should go to church, too.

Some Wilmington area churches are also having similar conversations – choosing a modified schedule or no church at all on Sunday to accommodate families’ busy Christmas mornings. Other churches are beefing up their Christmas Eve services or adding new outreach elements to their Christmas Day service.

For Calvary Chapel of Wilmington, the choice was clear – big Christmas Eve service and no church on Christmas.

“We just kind of felt like people should have that time with their families,” said Pastor Clay Ritter. “And people in the congregation can choose whether or not they go to church on Christmas day, but the people who serve in the church don’t necessarily have that choice. This gives them that time as well.”

Lifepoint Community Church also planned to celebrate early with two Christmas services on Thursday night in Roland-Grise Middle School auditorium and no Christmas Sunday services.

Other churches are lightening the load on church workers on Christmas day, though not cancelling services.

First Christian Church is having its walk-in Christmas Eve pageant and late night service on Saturday and is still having its 10 a.m. Sunday service – just without Sunday School classes.

For Seagate Baptist Church on Oleander Drive, a Christmas service will be a time for outreach. The church plans a Christmas meal after its 11 a.m. service open to anyone in the Wilmington area.

But both pastors of Kure Beach First Baptist Church and St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church said holding Sunday worship service on Christmas morning was “a no-brainer.”

“It’s kind of like Jesus’ birthday,” said the Rev. Sam Zumwalt, senior pastor. “Why would we not celebrate Jesus’ birthday on his birthday?” He also added that the church will be holding fewer services on Christmas day because it’s holding three Christmas Eve services.

For Interim Associate Pastor Lynn Bullock at Kure Beach Baptist, worshiping on Christmas is the most direct way of stating the reason for the season.

“If we, as Christians, are going to call it Christmas,” he said, “you can’t have Christmas without Christ in it.”

Amanda Greene: or


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