The First Presbyterian Church of Oregon and the People's United Methodist Church of Oregon were planning for Christmas Eve services. But after broken water pipes caused damage at one, the churches are now working together to give their congregations the opportunity to worship and celebrate.
After water pipes at the First Presbyterian Church of Oregon froze and burst on Dec. 10, it appeared that only one of the two churches would be able to go through with those Christmas Eve plans.
"It was disheartening because we were expecting everybody to be here for Christmas and to really celebrate being home together," Le Anne Clausen de Montes, pastor at the Presbyterian Church, said.
In addition to two Christmas Eve services, the Presbyterian congregation had plans to host a Christmas Cantata for the entire community.
Damage to the church is so bad that they will not be able to use the sanctuary for services until sometime after the first of the year. Construction crews will not even be able to begin work on the repairs until after Jan. 1.
The left the congregation without a place to hold their Christmas Eve service until a member of a church down the street learned of the situation.
"And she said, ‘Pastor Jason, I wanted you to know I've invited the Presbyterians over for Christmas Eve,' and I said, ‘OK…to your house, all of them, one of them, what do you mean,?' and she said, ‘Well no, they've had a problem with their building and so I've invited them to be with us for Christmas Eve,'" Jason Mahnke, pastor at the People's United Methodist Church of Oregon, said.
Mahnke and Associate Pastor Johanna Mahnke reached out to the First Presbyterian Church and offered to make available a time on Christmas Eve in their church for an additional service. The First Presbyterian Church service will take place at 5:30 p.m. In addition, the members of both churches are being welcomed to attend any of the services at the Methodist Church on Christmas Eve. The Methodist Church services will be held at 4, 7 and 9 p.m.
"We're not about nitpicking theology details. We're about being a community," Mahnke said.
Out of misfortune, it is possible the members of both congregations may get the chance to see firsthand the true meaning of Christmas.
"It is very much like a manger story to have space made in a place where you know that things are already so busy and so full on Christmas Eve to be able to have that space as a gift," Clausen de Montes said.
While the First Presbyterian Church will be able to hold a Christmas Eve service, they will not be able to hold the Christmas Cantata at this time. They do still have plans to hold the Christmas concert when their building reopens as a way of celebrating with the community, even if that means holding a Christmas concert in the spring.