La Crosse churches prepare for safe Christmas services amid pandemic

Church leaders confident people can gather for Christmas worship services safely

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – People come together during the holidays. That’s easier said than done during a pandemic for churches in La Crosse.

The holiday season connects people.

“There’s also something that’s needed for the heart and the soul,” said Father Brian Konopa of Mary Mother of the Church in La Crosse.

The pandemic forced churches to reinvent the wheel for their services. Leaders at Mary Mother of the Church added a third Christmas Eve mass to space people out. Masses also air online and air on cable television.

“We could meet people where they’re at and the safety precautions that they need to have,” Konopa said.

English Lutheran Pastor Glen Bickford said they do want they can prepare so people can celebrate their faith.

“Church is an important part of people’s lives,” Bickford said.

Just a few blocks down the road English Lutheran leaders broke up their services to cater to specific people and families.

“So, for instance, our three o’clock service, you may notice there are birds around the sanctuary,” said Pastor Becky Goche. “That a service geared specifically for our children.”

The year 2020 made services even more of a challenge. Pastors remember when they preached to cameras instead of to people face-to-face.

“It was very difficult,” Goche said

Goche said people are making their way back to these seats.

“When I say good morning, to hear that back was just amazing,” she said.

People disagree on the response to the pandemic, but Konopa said Christianity teaches respect even when opinions differ.

“The great commandment for Christians is Jesus telling us the night before he died, ‘I give you this one commandment. Love one another as I have loved you,’” Konopa said.

Places like this welcome people through its doors once again.

“This is part of the beauty of human living; being together,” Konopa said.

A break from what people have lost in a place where they are reminded of what they have.

“Even in the midst of sorrow, there’s always a little glimmer of joy,” Goche said.

Church leaders encourage people to wear masks and hand sanitizer sits in multiple spots for people to use.