ROSEVILLE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Neither COVID-19 nor the winter weather in Minnesota stopped worshipers from marking Christmas Eve.
In Roseville on Thursday, St. Michael's Lutheran Church hosted two Christmas Eve services outdoors -- despite the low temps that followed a blizzard on Wednesday.
"This is the first service where we've gathered for months," said church member Ron LaFond.
For many, going to church on Christmas Eve is a holiday tradition. But instead of getting together under one roof inside their house of worship this year, church members in Roseville are celebrating the season in the great outdoors.
About 75 people showed up for the first of two Christmas Eve services that St. Michael's Lutheran Church held in the parking lot.
"I'm glad to be here," said LaFond. "We can't see each other's faces completely, but I think there is a lot of smiles."
After holding outdoor services this summer because of COVID-19, church leaders decided to revive the practice so members had the chance to observe the holiday in person, not just online.
"We know that for many people the idea of being together as a community is significant," said Pastor Brad Froslee. "So we're providing that option even though it's below zero and the wind is kicking up."
For the 15-minute service, church members traded pews and hymnals for lawn chairs and blankets -- and plenty of hand warmers.
"I was really moved by one of our elders in the congregation, who is in her 80's," recalled the pastor. "Who said, 'If I need to put on my Sorels and a down jacket, I am going to be there on Christmas Eve."
"To have a service outdoors on a nice crisp sunny day, I think it's going to make it a special memory," concluded LaFond. "Maybe this year will be back to normal but this will be a special Christmas, it really will."
At least a couple of other area churches planned similar outdoor Christmas Eve services, but they were moved online and to Zoom because of the cold temperatures.