TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Typically churches are filled as worshipers welcome in Christmas, but this year COVID-19 has forced some adjustments.

Like many churches, Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in Terre Haute is accustomed to hosting services on Christmas Eve. But with the pandemic still ongoing, this year what are normally indoor services were moved outdoors.

“What we’re preparing to do is going to be very different. We normally had a traditional Christmas eve service and this year we’re doing what we’re calling a socially distant Christmas Eve,” said Dennis Ticen, Lead Pastor at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

Thursday evening, the church’s parking lot was filled with worshipers who received the word without leaving the safety of their car.

“We’re going to sing a couple carols, read the Christmas story and then have the lighting of the candles,” Ticen said.

Ticen says on a day like Christmas Eve, he felt it was important to come together, even if it is different than year’s past.

“Even though we weren’t able to be in the building, we wanted to have something where people could come together this evening, even if just for a little bit,” he said.

Churchgoers in attendance on Thursday shared a similar message.

“It’s just energizing just seeing the people at the church. We haven’t been able to experience that through this pandemic but it’s just a joy to be here,” said Rick Swan, Associate Pastor at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

“It’s just something that I needed. I needed to be with my church family and the body of Christ and especially on Christmas Eve. This is such an important time of the year,” said Ginger Bedford, church member.

Following the service, the church also handed out gift cards tonight to those who are spending their Christmas Eve working. They say it’s just a way to show their appreciation.