This Christmas Eve, the staff at Christ Lutheran Church on Providence Road will work part-time.
Part-time as in they will be putting on four Christmas Eve worship services instead of seven.
Christ Lutheran opened its new sanctuary in the spring, a 1,000-seat space that mixes contemporary and traditional elements. This week, the church will celebrate its first Christmas Eve in the new building, and leaders expect most of the services to be full.
“We have found that our congregation members are just really excited to go out and invite their family and friends,” said the Rev. Scott Suskovic, pastor of Christ Lutheran. “They are very proud and excited to show it off.”
The sanctuary replaces the church’s decadeslong practice of holding traditional services in its old sanctuary and contemporary services in its gymnasium. The new worship space was designed to accommodate large services and productions.
Before it was built, Suskovic said the church gathered input from about 10 area church leaders about what they would have done differently in designing their buildings. Almost all of them said they had made the church’s chancel area, or stage, too small.
Christ Lutheran’s new chancel area recently accommodated four choirs – about 150 people – for a Christmas concert.
The new space also has lights that dim and screens where the church can display words to hymns. That will allow people in the congregation to continue to sing as lights are lowered for the candlelight portion of the Christmas Eve services.
The lights in the old worship spaces were operated with on/off switches, Suskovic said, and lowering of the lights could be jarring.
“People will be looking up (at the screens) when they are singing, so they project more, and it fills the room,” Suskovic said.
The church will hold traditional Christmas Eve services at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and contemporary services at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Each will follow the same order of worship and play the same Christmas carols, but the music leaders will be different.
All services will include communion, a sermon and candlelight.
Suskovic suggested that people arrive 30 minutes early to get a seat and listen to prelude music.
“It will be a good time to sit down, catch your breath and focus on worship,” Suskovic said.
The new worship space already is transforming Christ Lutheran. The church’s attendance has increased about 10 percent since the spring, and the 55,000-square-foot worship center, which houses the sanctuary, is creating a sense of community.
“When you walk in, there is a sense of the holy in that space,” Suskovic said. The church’s seats are in a semicircle, so people can see each others’ faces as they worship.
“When you are worshiping, you can see the gathering of believers around you,” he said.
People often congregate in the worship center’s commons area, talking before and after church services.
The space took 10 years to design, raise the money for and build.
“It has been a great joy to be in that space,” Suskovic said. “It has surpassed all of our expectations.”
The community is invited to Christ Lutheran’s Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Dec. 24. The church is at 4519 Providence Road. For more information about the church, visit http://christelca.org or call 704-366-1595.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at email@example.com.
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