CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With Easter on Sunday, April 4, many churches are trying to navigate the fine line between keeping people safe from COVID-19, but also finding ways to celebrate the holiday.
“I believe the effects of the resurrection virtually can be as powerful,” William Ward, the pastor of Bethel Church of God In Christ, said.
He believes a virtual service is what’s best for his congregation.
“The history of the resurrection, it did not occur inside the church,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when Jesus actually rose, his disciples were hidden behind closed doors in their place of refuge.”
At St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, Fr. Mario Calabrese says Easter mass requires preregistration.
“Normally on Sunday, you just come, but because these are big masses and everyone and their brother will want to come, even if they’ve been staying home most of the pandemic, they say ‘I might want to try to come for Easter,’ we want to make sure that we’re not mobbed and things are kind of spaced out,” he said.
At University Baptist Church and Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, the parking lot will play host to Sunday service.
“With more and more people being vaccinated and things getting a little safer, we’re going to have our traditional service, but we’re also going to have a 9 o’clock service right here in the parking lot,” Matthew Tennant, the senior minister at University Baptist Church, said.
“Easter is going to be outdoors in the parking lot, and we’ll have streamers, we’ll probably have loud music, just to really celebrate the resurrection day,” Alvin Edwards, the pastor of Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, said.
No matter the style of service, each church says the reason for the Easter celebration is more important than how the holiday is celebrated.
“Our God is not dead, he is alive,” Ward said. “We serve a risen savior and what Easter does for us accentuates the fact that he rose.”
“We’re obviously in the middle of a pandemic that’s been a huge cross for everyone around the world, no matter what their faith,” Calabrese said. “It’s important we as a church do go forward and remember Easter is about hope and that’s what the Holy Week is about and that’s what Easter is about.”