Churches rely on volunteers during holidays

BLUE EARTH – This is the time of year when many churches have some of their most holy days, and celebrate them with extra services. Conducting all those services involves more than just making sure the lights are turned on and the doors unlocked.

Father Peter Klein of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth as well as St. Mary’s in Winnebago said the Blue Earth parish will hold a Thanksgiving Mass at 9 a.m. Thursday while the Winnebago church will have a Mass at 5 p.m. today.

Saints Peter and Paul holds services on Christmas Eve, at 4 p.m. with the children’s pageant and at 10 p.m.; St. Mary’s will have services at 7 p.m.

Klein will have a Mass at 9 a.m. Christmas Day at Saints Peter and Paul. There will be no Christmas service at St. Mary’s.

The Catholic Church also offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation throughout the year, but Advent is the second most-popular time for it, with Lent being the busiest.

“That’s time-consuming,” Klein noted.

Pastor Bill Sabol of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Winnebago has an even busier schedule. He also serves St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Easton.

Sabol will conduct a Thanksgiving service and three Advent services on Wednesday evenings leading up to Christmas. He will have one Christmas Eve service at Our Savior and one at St. Peter’s. Then he’ll conduct a Christmas morning service and a New Year’s Eve service at Our Savior.

The children’s service on the third Sunday of December at Our Savior and on Christmas Eve at St. Peter’s is a big deal, and a lot of work.

“Volunteers and parents are more active in helping get the kids ready,” Sabol said.

The format of the services doesn’t change a lot, Sabol said, but the Christmas Eve and Day services will have more seasonal music.

It’s the volunteers who provide music and decorate the churches to make the services special, both clergymen agree.

“At Christmas time, special effort is made to decorate the house,” said Klein, adding it is like decorating a house for a birthday. “Candles, tree, Advent wreath; they do help provide a setting.

“There are people who really pour their heart out to decorate the house, put in a lot of extra hours,” he added.

Klein said the Blue Earth parish has two main music groups and each has a dozen people who make work hard to make the music memorable.

“It’s a sizable portion of the congregation that helps out,” Sabol said of his flock.

“The choir is pretty involved in several services,” Sabol noted, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

“Many of the ladies get involved in decorating. They’ll have that up pretty quickly,” he added.

“When it comes to decorating the church, I leave that to the members. They know what the traditions are and where the decorations are,” said Sabol, adding with a laugh, “I’ve got enough on my plate, I’m more than happy to leave that to others.”

Klein believes all the extra work is worth it.

“It has value in building the family; one of the ways we build the community,” he said.

“Personally, I don’t see it so much as work, as an opportunity to share the message of Jesus’ birth,” Sabol said.