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Churches, charities adapt Christmas celebrations to pandemic

MIAMI – Churches and parishioners in South Florida plan to continue to adapt to the risks of the coronavirus pandemic while celebrating this Christmas.

The pews at the historic Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at 740 NW 58th St, in Miami’s Liberty City, were empty on Tuesday and will remain that way this week.

Rev. Gaston E. Smith said he is doing what he can to make sure the church’s services don’t become super-spreaders in the community during the pandemic.

“We just thought it would be safe for people to spend time with their families ... The church is not in the building, but the church is in us,” Smith said, adding he is live streaming services online.

The Roman Catholic church has also been using social media worldwide. The Archdiocese of Miami has more than 100 parishes in Broward, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

“Christianity is a social religion. It’s about community,” said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski.

Many parishes are live streaming services. Some are also limiting capacity to less than 30% and allowing parishioners to reserve their spot ahead of time.

“Even though we have had to maintain distance from one another, at least Christmas reminds us that God is not distant from us,” Wenski said.

Christian charities have also had to adapt during the season of giving. Marilyn Brummitt is the director of community development at the Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers, an organization that serves the homeless.

“We will be feeding them on Christmas Day outside, and the inside, residential people that are in the program are going to come into the cafeteria in shifts,” Brummitt said.

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