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Santa Barbara’s Calvary Chapel holds Christmas Eve service at Leadbetter Beach

For the second straight year, Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara held a Christmas Eve service under the sun and on the beach.

“I just think Santa Barbara is such a radically unique environment,” Pastor Tommy Schneider said. “People visiting, visitors all the time. The culture in this town. We should be at the beach more. Take church outside the walls where everything is in the glory.”

Hundreds of people gathered to worship at Leadbetter Beach as the sun set on a beautiful day. Calvary held a Christmas Eve service on the beach for the first time last year at the bathhouse on East Beach. Construction moved this year’s service to Leadbetter.

“I think Christmas Eve so special,” Schneider said. “It just has the special anticipation of being on the beach. Sun’s dropping over the mountain. It adds to the excitement of Christmas morning. I think it’s a perfect spot to celebrate Christmas.”

Volunteers like Jeffrey Layne handed out cookies afterwards. This is Layne’s first Christmas in Santa Barbara. He says the city and the church have already become special communities for him.

“What calvary does is they’re really a big part of the community,” Layne said. “They like to get involved, engage people, make everyone feel like family. We just recently moved here from Atlanta just a year ago, right before the mudslides. And I’ve helped serve with them in Montecito. [Calvary has] welcomed me like family.”

Calvary conducted services later Monday evening at the chapel. But at sunset, people had the chance to celebrate Christmas Eve in a uniquely Santa Barbara way.

“Nothing like it,” Layne said. “And look at the weather, it’s phenomenal.”

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