Find out how this local church is bringing the Christmas spirit to their community, including virtual candlelight services

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Asbury UMC
Asbury UMC’s Anchor Community Respite Ministry provides assistance to those with dementia. Photo via Asbury UMC, taken before COVID-19

The holiday season is here, and while it’s typically a time to gather together and rejoice, the pandemic definitely threw us a curveball this year. While we may not be able to join together safely just yet, Asbury United Methodist Church is bringing the spirit of the holidays to you from a generous six-foot distance. Here’s a look at what they’re doing.

1. They are providing essentials to those in need via a drive-through food pantry.

Asbury UMC
Helping those in need during COVID-19 through a food pantry drive-through. Photo via Asbury UMC

The holiday season can be a trying time, and with social distancing it can be hard for many to get out to the store to purchase essential items. Through Asbury’s food pantry, those in the Birmingham community are provided a much-needed helping hand.

The pantry got its start in 2011 and is entirely self-sufficient—relying solely on donations from church members and funding from Asbury’s Missions in Action Program. In 2017 alone, the pantry fed approximately 465 people and distributed 975 bags of food—a number which continues to grow every year.

Through the month of December, Asbury’s food pantry offers drive-through grocery pickup services every Wednesday from 2-3:30PM. Everyone is welcome.

2. They are continuing their efforts to help caregivers and those in the community with dementia.

Asbury UMC
Helping at a distance. Photo via Asbury UMC

Being a caregiver for someone with dementia is challenging. Add in safety concerns due to the pandemic, and it becomes even harder. That’s where Asbury’s Anchor Community Respite Ministry comes in.

In 2019, Asbury launched the program as a way for caregivers and loved ones to receive access to fellowship, care and support.

With 30+ volunteers, participants were welcomed with open hearts and open minds into the program which met twice weekly to supply a number of important resources, including:

  • A Meal
  • Activities/Games (guest speakers, bingo, wheel of fortune)
  • Art + Music
  • Physical Fitness (balloon volleyball, bowling, chair yoga)
  • Socialization

During this time, caregivers were provided much-needed time away from their full-time responsibilities.

While the pandemic caused Asbury to temporarily suspend the in-person program, they are continuing to provide some elements of care—even at a distance.

Currently, Asbury is offering weekly Zoom sing-alongs as well as to-go meal delivery services to those with dementia every Wednesday.

Everyone in the Birmingham community is welcome to participate in Asbury’s Anchor Community Respite Ministry. For more information, contact Gina McIntyre at gmcintryre@asburyonline.org.

3. They are providing insight into the Christmas through a virtual Advent calendar.

Growing up, did you have an advent calendar that took you on a door-to-door countdown to Christmas Day? I did, and it was one of those small holiday traditions I remember so fondly. 

To keep spirits up this season, Asbury is doing something truly unique—a virtual Advent calendar. See, you’re intrigued already!

Each day during Advent, Asbury posts a new Advent video devotional on their website to help people remember what’s important during this busy and unusual time. Click here daily to “open” the next “door” on your seasonal journey.

4. They are hosting a Virtual Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service on December 24.

Asbury UMC
A peek at what’s inside Asbury UMC’s Christmas Eve bags. Photo via Asbury UMC

It’s hard to give up our holiday traditions, especially those we’ve been following as far back as we can remember. One for many during December is attending a candlelight service at church. 

While you’ll have to light your candle at home this year, Asbury plans to make their annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service one to remember this year with a virtual service on December 24 at 8PM.

To make the virtual service as “real” as possible, they’ll be offering Christmas Eve bags filled with candles, communion elements and family devotionals. Bags can be picked up on December 24 between 1PM and 4PM.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at Asbury to greet families during this time, so be sure to let the kiddos tag along for a spark of holiday magic. 

Reserve your bag now.

5. They’re offering in-person and virtual Christmas services.

Asbury UMC
Join Asbury UMC for their Virtual Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service on Dec. 24, 2020. Photo via Asbury UMC

During the month of December, you can also join Asbury for two Christmas Sermon Series:

  • Great Joy: A Christmas Series with Pastor Robert Mercer. In person in The Bridge on Sundays at 11AM or virtually on Facebook on Wednesdays at 7PM.
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas with Rev. Dr. Kip Laxson. In person in Traditions each Sunday at 11AM.

Click here to save your seat for in-person worship.

To learn keep up with Asbury United Methodist Church during the holiday season, visit their website or follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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