Punta Gorda church hosts socially-distanced Christmas Eve service to spread hope, cheer


A Southwest Florida church organized its first Christmas Eve celebration followed by a service, and while it looked a little different, it still had some Christmas magic.

Hope for the future is what the Christmas story represents, and that’s why First United Methodist Church in Punta Gorda decided to go all out this Christmas Eve.

After everything we’ve gone through this year, who doesn’t need a little hope?

“Coming to the park and having the worship service here and the live nativity scene just really shows the true reason for the season and that’s what we’re here to celebrate,” said Jennifer Hustedte, who went to the event with her family.

The church held a socially-distanced service at Gilchrist Park brought to life for the kids with music, a petting zoo, Christmas stories and a live nativity, all to reinforce the true meaning of this Christian holy day.

“It’s really cool to watch the kids ask questions and to have the parents answer and explain the nativity stories. So it’s really cool to see the Christmas magic come alive,” said Jordan Flick, director of ministry.

“Christmas is very important, just to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus as a family,” Hustedte said.

Flick and her team spent months planning ways to make the day special for families, and with the turnout they had, they make the event a tradition.

“We hope that it helps create that imagination … this will hopefully stick out in their mind when they look back at it one day,” Flick said.

“Continue to pray that things will get better and really enjoy and understand how blessed we truly are,” Hustedte said.

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