“We can’t do that, so what can we do?” has been the running mantra for many across the nation since the start of COVID-19, and this has certainly proven true for the congregation at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church in Athens, Alabama.
“This is a statement and question our church staff has made what seems like over and over again since the beginning of the pandemic,” says Andy John King, lead pastor at Lindsay Lane. “Because we believe God has called us to minister within this time and place, we want to exhaust every option before we decide to call something off.”
With COVID-19 precautions still in place for indoor gatherings, many houses of worship turned to outdoor or live streaming services to ensure messages would still reach the masses, and with Christmas right around the corner, many are wondering how they should host Christmas Eve services.
After thinking it over, Lindsay Lane decided to host their annual Christmas Eve service outside around a Christmas tree in hopes that the congregation would feel safe to still gather and celebrate.
“We certainly don’t want the challenges of 2020 to overshadow the ‘Light of the World’, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas,” says Bradley Griggs, executive pastor at Lindsay Lane. “Our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service has always been very well attended. We simply could not host the event indoors this year and maintain appropriate social distancing. So, rather than cancel, we decided to move the service outside and invite our church to gather around the Christmas tree to sing carols and light candles in celebration of Christ’s coming into the world.”
With a plan in place, the only thing missing was the tree. This is where Kendall Outdoors LLC in Madison, Alabama, was able to lend a hand.
After removing a few 25-foot Green Giant Arborvitae trees from a client’s yard, Jake and Valerie Kendall had the idea of selling the trees to people in the community for Christmas decorations.
They posted an ad for the trees on Facebook and within 30 minutes, Lindsay Lane reached out.
Jake says the crews loaded up the tree, transported it to Lindsay Lane and planted it in front of the church.
“It was pretty simple,” says Jake. “We dug an eight-inch hole with the auger about two feet deep and stuck the base of the tree in there. It gave us enough support to where if the wind were to come and blow it or anything, it would secure it. And we actually used wood to wedge the trunk in the hole to secure it.”
Seeing as this was the first time the company had attempted a project like this, Jake says he was a little wary of how it would go. After a successful run, he says he would definitely consider adding this on as a side service for the winter months.
“It was nice to do something out of the ordinary and out of the normal routine for the guys on the crew,” says Valerie. “They were able to do a more ‘fun’ type of project. They were definitely intrigued, and you could tell they were excited to be on the jobsite.”
With cooler temperatures setting in for the area, the Kendalls estimate that the tree will live into mid-January.
“This year has not been ideal, but God doesn’t need ideal or traditional circumstances to minister to people,” says King.