Washington County churches plan Christmas Eve services

MARIETTA — Amidst gift exchanges and family dinners, local pastors, reverends and other religious leaders hope Marietta and surrounding residents take a moment to pause either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

“I hope you can take away an appreciation for the meanings behind the day, for the community and family and the coming together,” said Pastor George Gaston, of the Fort Harmar Assembly of God.

He said often the evening service held with his congregation sees peoples who only step through the doors once per year, but he’s happy to see them.

“It’s a shorter service than we usually have, and it’s a candlelight service but we do carols and have a couple readings of the Christmas story and then I give a short sermon and we end with ‘Silent Night,'” he said.

Candlelight services are often seen across denominations, with one service being held at the Norwood United Methodist Church in a similar fashion, but the other common theme is the invitation to commune together.

“We are joining the Celebration Center on Front Street for their Christmas Eve service and have extended that invitation to several pastors’ congregations in the area,” said Rodney Lord, pastor of Freedom Gate Church in Reno. “When we come together, even though our doctrines may differ, enough of our core beliefs coincide that we can easily fellowship together as members of the Family of God.”

Lord said he hopes whichever service a local resident might chose to attend, whether it’s the Family Christmas Eve service at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta or a Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, the sentiment remains the same.

“Of course in the business of preparing for Christmas it’s always good to stop and pause on the foundation that Jesus came to our world to be our savior and we’re celebrating how he affects the lives of humanity,” said Lord. “At the Celebration Center Pastor Gordie Deer will guide the service with a short message and prayers, and they’ll serve communion as well.”

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Christmas Eve Services

* Celebration Center, in conjunction with other area churches including Freedom Gate Church at 822 Front St.: 5:30 p.m.

* Fort Harmar Assembly of God: 6 p.m.

* First Baptist Church of Marietta: 6 p.m.

* Norwood United Methodist Church: 7 p.m.

* First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta: 7 p.m.

* Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption: Children’s Mass: 5 p.m.; Christmas Eve Mass: 7:30 and 10 p.m.; Christmas morning: 8 and 10 a.m.