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COVID concerns cancel Old Christmas event

Just exactly how many years has Old Christmas at Clay Hill has been a Pike County tradition is uncertain.

But, the lantern-light service in the historic, one-room country church has been a tradition for families in and around Pike County for at least 30 years.

However, on Old Christmas Day, January 6, in the wake of COVID-19, the church will stand silent.

The annual Old Christmas program is a service of Brundidge United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Ed Shirley said much thought went into the decision to cancel the service that has often weathered icy, cold January nights to bring the Christmas season to a quiet, meaningful close.

“The tradition of Old Christmas at Clay Hill includes the youngest baby born to a couple in our church during the year,” Shirley said. “The baby represents the Christ Child so it is especially meaningful to the couple and to our church family. The babies that have been such a special part of the service most often grow up in our church and attend the Old Christmas services Some of them play other roles in the Old Christmas service.”

Shirley said the decision to cancel Old Christmas 2021 on January 6, was based on the restrictions of social distancing.

“Being an old church building, the pews are close together and, too, it’s a small church,” Shirley said.

“And, because the weather will be cold, ventilation will not be possible. The decision was made in the best interest of the health of everyone. We encourage others to celebration the arrival of the Wise Men to worship the newborn king in their own way at home.”