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Local churches unite to Celebrate Christmas Eve on County Radio

Cathy Duggan, minister at Bloomfield United Church, was lying in bed awake worrying about Christmas Eve – in August. But with co-operation of 17 County churches and the local radio station, Duggan is thankful for “a small Christmas miracle”.

With pandemic fighting restrictions such as physical distancing and 30 per cent seating capacity restrictions in place, no congregation was going to be able to offer the traditional Christmas Eve experience to County folks and their families.

“For many people who don’t attend church at other times, going to a Christmas Eve service as a family, squeezing into a pew, hearing the scriptures, singing carols, wishing their neighbours a Merry Christmas – it’s important part of their Christmas traditions, and I knew that this year, because of COVID 19, churches just couldn’t offer that same experience,” said Duggan.

Many churches have asked those who plan to attend worship on Christmas Eve to pre-book a space due to seating capacity restrictions. Some are not able to accommodate those who live and work outside of the County. Some are not singing at all, and others are singing through masks.

What could churches offer those who would typically turn out for Christmas Eve only to find that there might literally be ‘no room at the inn’?

“Lots of churches now have some kind of online worship option, whether it’s a livestream on Facebook or YouTube or a Zoom experience. But like many parts of rural Ontario, internet access in the County isn’t always great. And all churches probably have at least a few folks in our congregations who just don’t use the internet – period.”

That’s when radio, specifically 99.3 County FM: The Voice of the County came to the rescue.

“I approached County FM through a contact in my congregation and proposed that they work with us to produce a program of Christmas scripture readings and carols that could be broadcast on the radio on Christmas Eve and repeated on Christmas Day. Craig Mills General Manager, and Pat Larkin Production & IT Manager were supportive right off the bat. After all, everybody has a radio.”

Rev. Duggan also reached out to other ministry colleagues, who likewise quickly jumped on board, recognising the opportunity that a program like Celebrate Christmas could offer to those who would have to forgo in-person Christmas Eve services this year.

Archdeacon Charles Morris at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican church and Chair of the Prince Edward Ministerial Association gained the endorsement of that group, and stepped up to work with Rev. Duggan not only as co-manager of the project, but as recording engineer for most of the musical pieces as well. Larkin is also doing a tremendous number of recordings and pulling all of the elements together.

Mills said Rev. Duggan’s approach to the station was to create something that would be non-denominational and all inclusive.

“We embraced the project as a chance to help the community heal and celebrate Christmas. It was a privilege for 99.3 County FM to take this on.”

In total there are 17 congregations in the County participating in Celebrate Christmas – reading scripture, offering music and extending Christmas greetings on behalf of their congregations.

“Really with the response we’ve had from the station, from the ministers and their congregations, and with how quickly and smoothly this has come together, well, it’s almost like a small Christmas miracle,” said Duggan.

The program airs on 99.3 FM and streams across Canada and around the globe @ Dec 24, at 8p.m and is repeated on Dec 25 at 12 p.m.

Participating Congregations
St. Mary Magdalene- Picton,
St. Philip’s-Milford,
St. John’s- Waupoos,
St Andrew’s-Wellington

South Bay, Milford

Roman Catholic
St. Gregory the Great

Picton Free Methodist
Bethany Christian Reformed, Bloomfield
Emmanuel Baptist, Bloomfield.
Picton Salvation Army
Gilead Fellowship, Picton
St Andrew’s Presbyterian, Picton


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