By Janis Fontaine
St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Boynton Beach is known for its delightfully chaotic Spontaneous Christmas Pageant, a church tradition that recruits mostly kids from the audience to act out the Nativity story. But COVID-19 forced church leaders to cancel the event, which packs the church to SRO every Christmas Eve.
Not wanting to disappoint the congregation, Dee Zlatic, who leads the children’s ministry, and her team came up with a new idea: six tableaus depicting scenes from the glorious birth story frozen in time so that folks could drive past.
“We had the costumes and props and we had lots of families volunteer to act out the scenes,” Zlatic said. Each vignette allowed families to stay in their respective bubbles in keeping with COVID-19 precautions.
Zlatic was thrilled when, at the last minute, a local petting zoo delivered goats and ponies to round out the final tableau, a re-creation of the Nativity scene.
Charles Milling, with his wife, Julie, and their baby boy, Ellis, just a few months old, took on the role of the Holy Family. Milling, who leads the Christian band Live Hymnal, which performs at the church, also prepared and recorded the Christmas music and the Scripture readings people played in their cars.
More than 300 cars drove through, said Father Marty Zlatic, who was pleased and proud of the turnout and of Dee, his wife.
As people left, John Flynn played the bagpipes and everyone received a keepsake: a clear Christmas ornament handmade by Kyle May that contains the parish’s catchphrase —
“Keep Jesus in your bubble.”
St. Joseph’s remembers victims of COVID-19
On Jan. 20, almost a year after it was first reported that a strange, potentially deadly virus was spreading around the world, St. Joseph’s held a special service to commemorate the 400,000-plus lives lost to COVID-19.
“We knew we were going to do something, but when we saw the luminaries on the National Mall in Washington, we wanted to replicate it,” Father Marty said. “We can’t have 400,000 luminaries, but we can have 40.”
St. Joseph’s parishioners showed up for the outdoor socially distanced event. Since the outbreak, St. Joseph’s has followed stringent protocols, including fogging the church after every service, requiring masks and reserved seating in 6-foot family bubbles, and touchless Communion.
In-person services by reservation take place at 10 a.m. Sundays, and outside services on the lawn begin at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. The church is at 3300 S. Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach. 561-732-3060; www.stjoesweb.org.
Bethesda-by-the-Sea to host Empty Bowls event
The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea will host a reimagined eighth annual Palm Beach Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for the Palm Beach County Food Bank, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Guests will be served from a drive-thru to ensure safety amid the pandemic. Delivery is available for large orders.
One in six of Palm Beach County’s 1.5 million residents has trouble getting good meals. Many are children. Because of COVID-19, the demand on local food banks nearly tripled in 2020.
The mantra of this annual fundraiser is “eat simply so others may simply eat,” and it asks each person to substitute one lavish meal for a solemn, simple feast of soup and bread and bottled water. The soup will come from the area’s best restaurants and bread from Old School Bakery.
Tickets are $30, which includes one pint of soup and bread. All proceeds from Palm Beach Empty Bowls benefit the Palm Beach County Food Bank to fight hunger in our community. The church is at 141 S. County Road, Palm Beach. www.pbcfoodbank.org; 561-670-2518.
Diocese’s Mass gets new time slot on TV
The Diocese of Palm Beach’s Sunday morning Mass for the homebound no longer airs at 9:00-9:30 a.m. It airs on CW34 WTVX from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The time change is due to a programming revision by CW34.
Visit www.diocesepb.org/videos to hear the weekly homilies.