Day Davis

Content Engagement Specialist

Instead of using candles during 2021 Christmas candlelight services, a few Methodist Churches in Hot Springs decided to get creative to avoid the unnecessary removing of face masks or blowing out of individual candles.

Each row of worshipers at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church received gift bags containing small flashlights that were used to illuminate the room and make festive patterns on the ceiling as they sang “Silent Night.”

Rev. David Fleming of Grand Avenue UMC was inspired by a gift given to his son when he was young. He realized how mesmerized his son was by the little flashlight, which gave him the idea to use flashlights in lieu of candles for Christmas services.

“We encouraged congregants to keep the gift, putting it in a place where it would not only be good utility, but also a reminder of the light of the world we celebrate all through the year.” Rev. Fleming said.

Although 98% of Village United Methodist Church’s regular attendees are fully vaccinated, they opted for battery-powered candles.

“In holding steadfast to our first rule of doing no harm, battery powered candles seemed a good alternative for that portion of our services,” said Rev. Chris Hemund of Village UMC.

Rev. Hemund said the goal was to keep the service as normal as possible while providing greater options for lighting and extinguishing.

Usually cell phones are frowned upon during church services, but they were encouraged during First United Methodist Church of Hot Springs’ candlelight service.

Rev. JJ Galloway said attendees held up their cell phone flashlights in unison instead of blowing out individual candles.

The last two years have taught us all how to improvise and change direction quickly.