FARMINGTON — The Rev. Steve Bracy wanted to give his congregation a few extra options to attend worship service and celebrate Christmas this year.

He worried about forcing people to choose between family traditions and worship service at Living Waters Assembly of God, a dilemma debated in the religious community whenever Christmas falls on a Sunday.

“We have a lot of young families with children and we were thinking they would rather be home with the kids on Christmas morning,” he said.

Bracy has led the Pentecostal church for 15 years and his goal was to promote the religious traditions of Christmas and the family time that is another important part of the holiday for many people, he said.

“We don’t want people to feel bad if they can’t be in church that morning, we understand people want to spend the day with their families,” he said.

He decided to schedule a Christmas worship service for the Sunday and Friday before Dec. 25, while also keeping a holiday worship service on that morning. When the holiday falls during the week on most years, his church gathers for the primary Christmas worship service on the Sunday before the holiday, he said.

Some churches decide to close when Christmas falls on a Sunday, and Bracy thought about canceling service this year but changed his mind because it would keep people from the traditional day of religious worship, he said.

“I know with our church family, it is a very religious holiday and it’s not very often that it falls on a Sunday, so we wanted to offer an alternative to still give them the option of attending the different worship services,” Bracy, 54, said last week.

Monsignor Andrew Dubois, vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said the Roman Catholic parishes in Maine offer multiple services each weekend throughout the year.

The 57 parishes, most with multiple churches in each community, offer many holiday service options in addition to Mass on Sunday, Dubois said.

“The challenge is when Christmas morning falls on any other day than Sunday. This year where it falls on the weekend, the biggest adjustment is trying to offer the services to meet the needs for families,” he said.

Each church has several Masses on Saturday and a midnight service for the more traditional religious experience on Christmas Eve, as well as Mass at two different times on Christmas morning, he said.

Many adults like to go to the midnight Mass, but the church also wants to accommodate people with young children, Dubois said.

“For couples with young children, they love to go to the early Mass on Saturday afternoon for the vigil of Christmas and still get home and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time,” he said.

People will typically choose one of the Christmas Eve services and then attend Mass on Sunday, maintaining their commitment to celebrate the many religious aspects of the holiday, Dubois said.

This year will be the first Christmas for the Living Waters Assembly of God at its new location on Wilton Road. Bracy said the congregation has doubled in size to about 100 members since moving there last winter from Strong, a neighboring town.

A Christmas message worship service was held Sunday at the church, and another holiday service is Friday at 6 p.m. with a candlelight worship service, children’s choir and other festivities, Bracy said.

The Christmas morning worship service is on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and a community holiday dinner follows at 12:30 p.m. The church asks that people call ahead if they plan to attend the dinner and for more information they should call 491-2898, according to the church’s website.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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