INDIANAPOLIS — Throughout the pandemic, houses of worship have had to adjust services and events to keep congregants safe, and comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
One of Indianapolis's oldest churches is no exception, despite celebrating Christmas and its 100th anniversary without anyone stepping foot inside.
"The Spanish Flu was from 1918 to 1920. Eastern Star Church was born in 1920. So we started in a pandemic and now here it is 2020 and we're back in a pandemic," said Jeffery Johnson, senior pastor of Eastern Star Church.
A full century after first opening its doors, Eastern Star Church is celebrating 100 years of service while keeping its physical doors closed, this time during the Coronavirus pandemic.
"So at Eastern Star Church, pandemics are no secret to us," Johnson said. "We know how to survive and thrive during a pandemic."
Johnson says this is the first time in the church's history the doors of the sanctuary will be closed on Christmas Day with the service celebrating the birth of Christ relocated to a virtual space, online.
"There will still be a message, about him loving us so much to come to this world and bless us," Johnson said. "That's what Christmas has been and that's what it's gonna be, we just won't be doing it on-site, we'll be doing it online."
While the inside of the church has been closed for most of 2020, the church has been active non-stop in the community. From launching one of the county's first COVID testing sites, to providing more than 200,000 meals during the pandemic, helping students during e-learning by providing laptops and scholarships, and even assisting Hoosiers with rent and mortgage payments.
"That for us, that is celebrating Christmas," Johnson said.
Whether in person or online Johnson says this year's Christmas Day service will have exactly what is needed to bring 2020 to a close.
"We'll still have music, signing about the birth of our savior, it'll still be celebrated even in the midst of a pandemic, and social injustice, and systemic racism, we are still going to celebrate the birth of our savior," Johnson said.