St Paul’s UMC holds Christmas toy blessing

Published: Dec. 26, 2021 at 8:06 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2021 at 12:53 AM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - It was a unique Sunday for churches, with Christmas falling on a Saturday this year. It gave St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Staunton an idea for an additional twist to their usual service.

The church held a ‘blessing of the toys’ allowing children to bring their favorite toy received on Christmas to be blessed by the reverend.

“Usually you have a low attendance on the Sunday after Christmas, so of course that fell literally right after Christmas so we thought one thing we can do is maybe do a blessing of the toys and really what we want to do in addition to blessing the toys is actually bless the children,” said Rev. Ryan Oswald of St Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Following their big Christmas Eve service on Friday, the church focused Sunday’s message on the continued Christmas season.

“For the secular world, Christmas comes and now its gone and they move on. For us, Christmas is 12 days. There’s a season of Christmas and so we’ll still be celebrating Christmas here. We’re gonna be singing Christmas carols and celebrating Jesus’s birth,” said Oswald.

The church’s Christmas Eve service on Friday saw a dramatic increase in attendance from last year’s service, when there were only around 60 people and the service was limited due to COVID-19.

“Normally we would have readers, but instead we had videos of folks and it actually went very well but very few folks actually attended. This year, I was blown away we had about 160 folks,” said Oswald.

All donations the church collected on Christmas Eve went to the United Methodist Family Services, which helps place children who are in the foster care system.

Oswald said the church’s attendance numbers are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels and in some ways, the adaptations made during the pandemic have helped the church grow.

“Now we have an online presence that we didn’t have before. All of our worship services are streamed and we see good online participation, but the amazing thing for us has been the new faces. We’ve seen probably 30 or 40 new faces begin to show up,” said Oswald.

You can learn more about the church and their various missions here.

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